Lights not out yet

Hopes for a holiday light show at Coast Guard Park are still flickering.
Marie Havenga
Jul 24, 2013


Ferrysburg Mayor Dan Ruiter said City Council has scheduled a work session for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5 to see if it's feasible to rekindle a proposal from Brad Boyink to hold his Holiday Road light show on the east end of the park.

Boyink presented his plans to city officials last week. But after strong opposition from Councilwoman Regina Sjoberg, Boyink withdrew his request.

The show was previously held in Spring Lake Township's Heather Park neighborhood prior to Boyink selling his house there. It was staged inside a Norton Shores strip mall this past December.

Boyink's plans for Coast Guard Park included five 10-by-12-foot buildings with facades replicating a 1950s downtown. The show was to feature more than 200,000 lights and raise funds for Special Olympics.

Boyink said he withdrew his request because it became clear that Sjoberg would do everything she could to make sure the show didn't happen there.

“It's not worth the battle,” he said at the July 15 meeting.

After raising traffic, safety and other concerns, Sjoberg cited a 1972 quit-claim deed that granted the park property from the federal government to the City of Ferrysburg. She said if the city leases the park to anything other than another government agency, it risks the property reverting back to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Ruiter called Boyink after that meeting and apologized.

The mayor said City Manager Craig Bessinger and city attorney George Bauer will be seeking a definitive interpretation from the federal government about the deed language before giving up on the opportunity to host the show that attracts about 70,000 visitors a year.

In a memo to council late last week, Bauer noted that use of the park "by third parties is permitted as long as it fits within the public park or public recreation categories, and as long as it does not involve a disposal of property by the city.” He cited park activities managed by the North Ottawa Recreation Authority as examples.

Bauer said when he drafted the original agreement between Holiday Road Charities Inc. and the city, he was not aware of the deed language and labeled the agreement a “lease.”

"My recommendation would be to revise the document to eliminate the reference to its being a 'lease' and send it to the Department of Interior for consideration of the nature of the proposed arrangement," Bauer wrote.

You can read Bauer's memo to city officials: Download the Related File (PDF) at the bottom of this story.

Ruiter said it is unknown how long the federal consultation will take.

“It could be a week, it could be a year,” he said. “I am hopeful that it could happen there (Coast Guard Park), but it still has to meet some workable parameters.”

Sjoberg said Tuesday that she will continue to oppose the synchronized light show at Coast Guard Park.

“I really don't think the problem is going to come from me,” she said. “It's going to come from the Department of the Interior and the businesses along the road that are going to be influenced by this traffic.”

Sjoberg said she thinks it's unfair some people have portrayed her as a “grinch that doesn't like Christmas” or support charities. She said neither is true.

“I actually thought of resigning because I'm so fed up dealing with people who aren't thinking clearly,” she said. “But I decided I'm not going to leave the field of battle that Mr. Boyink has created. I will speak my mind.”

Sjoberg said she didn't appreciate that Boyink did not prepare an alternative plan and that the Holiday Road Light Show Facebook page requests that people write to Ferrysburg leaders.

“He just assumed this would go through,” she said.

Sjoberg said there are a multitude of reasons the show should not be in Coast Guard Park, including zoning ordinance conflicts with Boyink's proposed buildings, which he wants to leave in the park for a children's playground area (the buildings would be locked). She said more than 1,000 cars a day would clog the area and cause problems for residents and oil and gasoline trucks that haul in that area 24 hours a day.

Sjoberg suggested Boyink purchase property north or south of town, or set up in Spring Lake Township's Rycenga Park or in Grand Haven.

Boyink said he is not actively seeking other sites at this time and hopes the show can land in the Tri-Cities area, possibly even Coast Guard Park.

“We're taking the high road here,” he said. “We're really not trying to create any kind of controversy. Ultimately, it's up to (Ferrysburg officials) to work out. If they reapproach us, we'll talk to them.”

Councilwoman Kathleen Kennedy said she is game for revisiting the issue.

“It was kind of disappointing to me that he withdrew everything at the (July 15) meeting,” Kennedy said. “I was leaning toward voting for it, with reservations about the traffic, but it sounded like he had that pretty well done. I was willing to try it for the first year and see how it went.

“Every one of us on that board had legitimate concerns, and Mr. Boyink heard them and answered them all,” Kennedy continued. “To quickly withdraw I think was unfair to him and unfair to us. I'm hoping we can discuss it in a more calm manner and I hope Regina can come to the table a little bit more open-minded.”

Boyink said he will need a go-ahead soon or the show will be postponed until next year because there won't be enough time to set it up.

“If something isn't pretty solid by the first or second week of August, forget it," he said. "Our hope is, if it doesn't happen this year, we'll find a suitable location in the future.”




So, Kathleen Kennedy thinks it was unfair "to" Boyink that he withdrew? He's the one that played that card. Manipulation is very underhanded, and Boyink is great at manipulation. He is taking the high road? Is claiming not to engage in battle and then calling for his minions to send letters to the City of Ferrysburg not engaging in battle? Passive-aggressive is a hard game to play, but he is quite adept at it.
Obviously, Mayor Dan Ruiter is going to do everything in his power to make this show happen in Coast Guard Park - up to and including using taxpayer dollars to have staff cater to Brad Boyink - who does not even have non-profit status. If anywhere from 15,000-35,000 additional cars drive down North Shore in winter, how is that of benefit to residents? Ferrysburg wants to tax people $75,000 over the next ten years for a bike path on North Shore because the Council thinks it is unsafe for walkers and bikers. How can one then argue that it is OK to increase traffic exponentially on that road during the most unsafe time of the year? Think of the ice and drifting snow, and the piles of snow alongside the road as 1,000 cars a day line up to get into Coast Guard Park - and this will all happen at night. The Mayor should be apologizing to the citizens of Ferrysburg - not to Brad Boyink.


Ms. Sjoberg - Stop talking about yourself in the third person. It is creepy. It is apparent you and Quin are the one and same. Own up to it.


Let's also remember - it's a holiday light show. While I understand having concerns, and getting them addressed - from a distance, it looks to me like too much is being made of this. Unless, of course, you enjoy this kind of drama. I find it interesting that most of the concern here is around the volume of traffic that the light show will create - but doesn't high traffic also mean high interest from the public?

Say no to new taxes

Put it at the site of the former horse race track on Henry street. Easy access, plenty of parking, and it wouldn't disturb any neighborhood.


Great idea! But Boyink seems to reject all alternatives but his own.


I'm sure Mr. Boyink would gladly start accepting ideas for imaginary locations. Please enlighten me as to where this Horse Race Track on Henry may have been located...

If the show could exist in Imagination Land, it would be so much simpler! People could gladly donate to a cause and close their eyes to enjoy! Would be a perfect world, and take far less time to setup. However a bunch of people walking around with their eyes closed enjoying a show blindly may pose more traffic and safety risks that the original proposition.


Um, I just moved here a year ago and know where the track was.... It's out just past Meijer and it's HARVEY Street, Muskegon address.


As a resident of Ferrysburg who lives very close to the old location of the light show, I am well aware of all the negative aspects of the show. I am very familiar with Coast Guard Park and the traffic on North Shore Drive. What I fail to understand is how this benefits our community at all. Unless the city is going to make some (significant)money off this somehow, it seems like a huge headache and a waste of the council's time and resources to let conversation continue. I can't believe my tax dollars are paying for a lawyer to deal with this. Also, if Boyink cares so much about the charities, why doesn't he just move on to another location?


sounds to me that ferysburg wants mr boyink show run this light show as a business, with fee,s, permit's and it could be run as they see fit, talk about government red tape !!!

Say no to new taxes

Sorry, it is on Harvey st. and not Henry st. I think it would be a great location for the show.

Holiday Road Ch...

Statement from Holiday Road Charities, Inc.
(as seen on our Facebook page:

As we have requested before please be respectful of everyone's point of views when responding to posts on Facebook or comment areas in newspaper articles. Being negative in responses does not help the cause.

Coast Guard Park was one of many locations we looked at. Every location that was considered went through a general feasibility study before anyone was even approached. No place was just cast aside. If it was eliminated, it was for logistical issues that could not be solved without creating additional issues.

For example, Rycenga Park was looked at but the park entrance is also shared with Villa Parkway. An entire neighborhood would not have been able to get to their homes. We decided against downtown as their is no place to put any of the decorative wireframes and the added traffic would prevent people from parking on Washington St. A lack of parking downtown does nothing to benefit the merchants. We also had no desire to disrupt the Nativity on Dewey Hill. Additionally everything would look indistinguishable due to the distance.

Much goes on behind the scenes in preparation for this show. It's not as easy as just pick a new location and start setting up. We spend months working on logistics and design.

If the show does not return this year, we will continue our search for next year and the show will come back even better. We would rather delay for a year than put on a show that does not meet our quality standards or creates an unnecessary battle.


Holiday Road Charities, Inc.
Board of Directors

Jason Brandt
Polly Czarniak
Kathy Holkeboer
Jim Brye
Brad Boyink


Why did Boyink not have alternative locations planned, since he knows full well the turmoil his proposals cause?


Quin, seems to me that you are well beyond seeing this rationally - do you have some kind of personal agenda here? Awfully negative.....


It appears theQuin earthier has problems with reading or comprehension. Perhaps a Cliffs Notes version will help him understand.

Quote from theQuin: "Why did Boyink not have alternative locations planned"

Let's start off with Mr. Boyink is only one person on an entire board of directors. All of them signed their names. Their statement made it clear the decision was made as a group.

The group very clearly said "Coast Guard Park was one of many locations we looked at. Every location that was considered went through a general feasibility study before anyone was even approached."

The "before anyone was even approached" implies more than one location was approached. We don't know for sure, but this would be a logical conclusion since they said they looked at many locations.

They also stated "We spend months working on logistics and design." Assuming you are married did you plan for multiple locations, backup caterers, alternate florists, etc. for your wedding? If you ran into a problem were you prepared to just move to a new location? Big events take lots of planning. Just like a wedding the light show obviously has lots of details that need to be worked out and that all takes time.

Quote from theQuin: "since he knows full well the turmoil his proposals cause?"

Turmoil is very subjective. Sure traffic can be inconvenient. Traffic going to North Shore Beach often creates a backup and blocks the road to North Shore Estates and prevents cars from rounding the corner, is that turmoil or inconvenient? Should we close the beach to all because it creates a backup on hot days? Traffic is traffic no matter what creates it. By your logic the beach should be closed.

So there is the Cliffs Notes summary, I hope it helps. But as with any good novel it's better to read the full book or in this case the full statements being made by the light show group to have a complete understanding.


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