Lights out, again

It’s the end of the road for an attempt to bring the Holiday Road Light Show to Grand Haven.
Alex Doty
Sep 17, 2013


Grand Haven City Council on Monday night decided not to allow Brad Boyink the opportunity to have the light show in Grand Haven — a move that caused Boyink to abruptly turn in his keys to the Musical Fountain and resign from all volunteer activities with the city.

“Over the past 18 years, I’ve been proud to be a volunteer to many city projects,” he said. “To me, the city has always been a community that cares about its citizens. It’s turned its back on a worthy charity.”

Boyink had proposed that the show, which typically raises more than $30,000 a year for Special Olympics, to take place along Franklin Avenue near downtown. It would’ve been similar to what Boyink set up in his Spring Lake Township neighborhood in 2011 and indoors at The Pointes strip mall in Norton Shores last year.

"We do feel it would have been a worthy location and helped businesses out, and done something special for charity in the city," Boyink said.

In spite of Boyink’s optimism that the plan would work, a majority on City Council felt the proposal lacked details about traffic flow.

There were major concerns about how the plan would impact holiday business traffic.

“It sounded interesting in the beginning, but the devil is in the details,” Mayor Geri McCaleb said. “I’m not willing to experiment with the livelihood of our merchants downtown.”

The mayor said the holiday season is a major sales time for local merchants that will tide them over until spring, and bringing a massive amount of traffic to downtown might hinder those sales.

The city's Main Street Downtown Development Authority recommended that council say no to the light show on Franklin. Authority Vice President George Gardner reiterated McCaleb's concern about how the show might negatively impact business.

“I support the DDA’s recommendation, and that is because the shopping season for the downtown merchants is so important to them,” he said. “I’m just concerned people will avoid the downtown and not want to go down there."

Noting that the show on Franklin is unproven, Gardner said it would be too big of a risk to take.

“I just think this is not a good idea to try and experiment when we don’t know what the impact will be on businesses,” he said.

Not everyone on council was opposed to the plan, though; some felt it would be worth it to see what it might do for the community. Council voted 3-2 to reject the proposal, with councilmen Bob Monetza and Mike Fritz supporting it.

Monetza said it is “a show worth doing.”

“This is a case of fear versus opportunity,” he said. “We see all these bad things that could happen, but there’s good things that could happen.”

Recalling the light show on Harbor Island a few years ago, Grand Haven resident Roger Starkweather said he thought Franklin Avenue was a better location for it. He also noted that access could be maintained to downtown shops.

“To me, access to downtown for shopping could come from Washington and Franklin,” he said.

The rejection by Grand Haven for the show follows Boyink pulling his proposal in July to  stage the synchronized light show in Ferrysburg's Coast Guard Park. There he faced vocal opposition mainly from one member of Ferrysburg City Council.



"There were major concerns about how the plan would impact holiday business traffic". WHAT? The town is already significantly less busy since Coast Guard and Labor Day have long gone. Holiday Business traffic? what a brilliant excuse from Mayor Geri McCaleb.

Again this is about the City only wanting to do what the City wants in its best interest. Um isn't Grand Haven all about tourism? What I see is lost revenue that the light show could have brought here.

" The mayor said the holiday season is a major sales time for local merchants that will tide them over until spring, and bringing a massive amount of traffic to downtown might hinder those sales". This town is dead during the holiday season. Another lame excuse from the Mayor.

Good for you Brad, 18 years of doing something for Grand Haven and they kick you right square in the knads. I'd turn in my keys too.

Best of luck in the future Brad, hopefully you'll still have time to set this up somewhere for this season.


I have actually been a big supporter of these projects. But this is not cool way to handle things:


That's much different than the page that was up earlier. Almost taunting us that the fountain will no longer operate now that Brad and Jim pulled the software. So basically they are saying we will not have a fountain next year because of their childish 'revenge' tactics over the city turning down a Christmas light show. What does the fountain have to do with this? It is nothing more than revenge, and now we may very well lose the fountain due to it.

It was just starting to get really good too!

If the fountain does manage to run next year, we surely won't see any new songs now thanks to these two.

Almost like they are passive-aggressively telling the city 'you will let us do our show on our terms, or you will lose the fountain'. Really mature...


Once again, know the facts.

The city has a copy of the install program and is free to put it on whatever site they wish. Mr. Swarts has not denied the city use of the software. The city has never paid one cent for the package or had any input to the development.

Anyone who has the software is still free to use it. The playback and controller software is still in place and there is no plans to remove it. There is no reason anything that has been created can not play. So easy to make accusations when you know none of the facts.

Mr. Swarts developed it himself and maintains the copyright on the software. He put it out to the community of his own free will.

And for those who say he should just give it to the city free of charge, I ask you did Bilz upgrade all of the plumbing for free? No. Is Erickson Electric donating all of their time while upgrading the new Allen Bradley system and running new wires. No. so does this make them bad people also?


I think a more accurate analogy would be if Bilz or Erickson did, in fact, donate the equipment and labor, and later decided to take it all out again because a zoning request was denied. Saying that they would be bad people would be going too far, as it would be to say that you or Mr. Swartz are bad people, but it would be a capricious action penalizing unrelated parties, in either case.

In this case, "the show would go on" even without the public programming software being available... but still, it's a really neat concept and I hope Mr. Swartz (and the rest of the volunteers who made the fountain upgrades possible) get the credit they deserve.


Well said. Better than what I said.


There is a SERIOUS major difference. This software has been integrated into the city's fountain for the past several years as a production and promotional tool. Every time when you go to the fountain, this software was promoted over the loud speakers. It is amazing to me that it would be pulled at this time.

This all seems very messy. I have LONG been a supporter of this event. I have spoke highly of the organizers even when some of my fellow SL Township residents were negative toward it. I made calls in support of the Heather CT location. I visited both at Heather CT and at Harbor Island donating to the cause. There is no doubt that Holiday Road was pretty cool. But the pulling of this software is simply pretty petty.

I think there is likely a way where everyone could save face ... but I think it needs to happen quickly.

I know you have officially declared this dead ... but the project seems to have been resurrected a couple of times in the past.

Again, I would love to see the program resume and I very much appreciate your work and funding for the project, but don't burn your community good will any further.

Let's just take a deep breathe and move forward (this goes for council too ... there is enough less than mature behavior here for everyone).

I would also love to hear Main Street's official position on this.


When someone donates time and effort to his or her community, is should be done without self-interest. The true Boyink is now showing. He is taking his toys and going home, because he cannot have his way. This has never been about charity or Christmas. It is about Boyink, his light production business, and his ego.


Very well said.


If Brad Boyink truly cared about charity, he would have listened to some of the viable possible alternatives voiced by many people. Instead, he is holding both cities and a charity hostage to his own ego.
Also, Tribune, the Ferrysburg site was disallowed by the National Park Service - hardly merely "vocal opposition mainly from one member of Ferrysburg City Council."
Will there now be an editorial calling Grand Haven Council and one minister who wrote against this proposal Scrooge-like, anti-Christmas grinches?


I think Brad does care about his charity Quin, who knows maybe the alternatives don't work with his logistics? Wouldn't you want the best for your charity also?

I just seems like when you want to do something nice for a community and a charity there's to many loopholes and someone whining about this and that.


Exactly. Brad does not like when he doesn't get his way. He has an ego the size of the Goodyear blimp!

There is much more to Brad than what you read in his personal P.R. news releases, and it is much darker.

Unfortunately the Tribune readers only see the positive stories about Mr. Boyink since he simply sends them a news release on nearly a weekly basis.

Before you all get your panties in a bunch remember that this was a half baked plan that was thrown together last minute since he was rejected from Ferrysburg. Details were missing and it only showed the vague idea.


I don't think this is the place to air your hatred of a man who gave a lot to the city of Grand Haven.


Wow. You really don't know Brad at all.


I know Brad much better than most.


Then why don't you say these things to his face instead of writing on this board.


Additionally, take a look at this... It truly shows his immaturity:

Since he didn't get his way, he is taking it out on groups who have done nothing to hurt him. Yes, the fountain is owned by the city but it operates pretty much as its own entity.

Nothing short of revenge tactics. He is doing this to hold the city hostage, plain and simple.


That is very disappointing.

Back to the Wall

Yet very predictable.


This is VERY disappointing.

I had previously supported the Holiday Road efforts but this is an example of very childish behavior. I understand why he would want to do this ... but I do not agree with it.




Once again accusations without facts. I did not pull down the site. This was done by Mr. Swarts as HE OWNS the software. But if you look you will notice there is a link to the legacy version of the software. The new version will not be completed.

Hated me does not = facts


Thanks to Mr. Swarts for adding that link. I has not been there all day. I am glad he has listened to the voice of the people on this.


Despite accusations none of the existing software has been denied from the city or removed off the playback system. Shows will go on and there was never a risk of not having shows.

The site was taken down for several hours, changed, and put back up with a link to the current version. The site now reflects there will be no more updates.

I'm sure that there are people who honestly believe I would take personal revenge and destroy something that is such a big part of the community. But those who know me personally will tell you that neither Jim or myself would ever jeopardize the fountain.

Monday night I gave up two things that were very dear to me. I spent 18 years giving my all to the Fountain. How dedicated have I been? How about the night before the rededication I was at the fountain until 3 AM setting everything up because we had only gotten our water the day before. On July 3rd I once again was up there to 4 AM getting everything ready so the public could see the new lights on the 4th of July. That was on top of everything I had to do to help out the new fireworks company.

Tuesday was a day of sorrow for me. If anyone thinks this decision was easy you should have come to my office and seen the tears running down my face all day.

Are the lights and fountain directly related? No, but to cast aside the person who has done so much for the city over 18 years is wrong. Not even the slightest effort was put forth on giving it a chance (with the exception of councilmen Fritz and Monetza) even though it has been successful and manageable in other locations.

Public safety approved the traffic flow, it wasn't half-baked. It was a solid foundation that was in the process of fine tuning. The only reason the show was turned down was a select group of merchants on MSDDA didn't want the show. Did you know MSDDA didn't even consult with all of the businesses downtown, and withheld information from them? There is a lot more to the story than you know.


Traffic could be controlled and it may have brought lots of people to downtown Grand Haven who never go there. They may go to dinner and shop and spend money. Downtown Grand Haven is dead from September to June.

However this would require merchants to be open past 5pm and they don't do that, so where is the problem with the traffic? How would it negativly affect the Merchants.


I still think that Dewey Hill would be a good location but I am not sure how donations would be collected. There are donation boxes near the bleachers for the musical fountain. Do people show their appreciation of the fountain by dropping money into these boxes? That would be good to know. If so, could it work for the light show across the river?


While I don't really have a dog in the fight when it comes to the light show, this superiorly moronic statement by the mayor pretty much tells the tale for why things are like they are in this city these days....

" The mayor said the holiday season is a major sales time for local merchants that will tide them over until spring, and bringing a massive amount of traffic to downtown might hinder those sales".

Huh?? Really?? I'd question the use of "massive", but don't you think it might just be possible that at least some of those folks who drive downtown, from around here or out of town, to see the lights, might just become imbued with the holiday spirit and spend some more time downtown actually shopping for the evening?? Having dinner?? Holy moly, talk about a lack of vision. It's almost stunning in it's absense.

I've been downtown many times over the years and it's never been what I'd call even close to being busy in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Why the city wouldn't want to invite more people to come to town to see the lights....and POSSIBLY shop downtown is baffling to say the least. Any of you city "leaders" ever hear the phrase "nothing ventured, nothing gained"???

I will say that when election time comes around again I will be voting each and every one of you visionaries out. Obviously time for some fresh blood and a redirection. Heck, I might run myself on a platform of common sense and education.


Bring them downtown for what? The stores are closed at 5:00 p.m! They are way overpriced for the ware. The restaurant menu's aren't that great and are over priced as well. I'm not sure how they stay in business but I hear bicker, bicker, bicker from them. The City bends over backwards for them...heated sidewalks and all. It's ridiculous.

And the light show and this Brad guy....I couldn't (and yes that is the proper term)care less. If you can't follow the rules and fit your show within the proper guidelines, take it down the road, literally. I personally deal with enough tourist all summer, I like the downtime.


While we respect what must have been a difficult decision by the Grand Haven City Council; we are deeply disappointed that the Holiday Road Light show will not be moving forward. Due to the decision made today Holiday Road Light Show is being permanently retired.

We sincerely thank those who have put their support behind us. We want to say a special thank you to the residents and business owners who offered up their homes and businesses for the display.

It is heart breaking that we will not be able to raise substantial funds for Special Olympics Area 12 athletes and that a family tradition will not be available. We wish Special Olympics the best and hope that the community will now pull together to help fill in the funding gap they now face. We encourage everyone to make a donation to the Special Olympic Polar Plunge.

Holiday Road Charities, Inc.
Board of Directors


I am sorry that you and the Holiday Road Charities Board feel this way. I believe that it is a complete cop out and premature. Where is the fight? My family, friends, and myself have always supported the light show and it's charities. So this year some B from Ferrysburg was a thorn and you couldn't get past the GH Board so you throw your hands up and say we are done forever! I say BS and grow a set. Fight for what you believe and keep looking. Brad, I am sorry but don't roll over like this. The GH board turned you down and you now let down the community by turning in your keys. I think maybe it should go to vote or Petition.



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