Light show decision fallout

Despite the decision by Brad Boyink to end his relationship with the city, the show will go on — the Musical Fountain show, that is.
Alex Doty
Sep 18, 2013


“We’re going to continue with the operation of the fountain, and the fountain will still be operational,” Grand Haven Facilities Manager Dan Vivian said. “The stuff to run it is still in place.”

Vivian said what will be missing is the technical support that Boyink had offered the city.

Boyink has volunteered for the city for the past 18 years. He helped program fountain shows and provided technical assistance in a variety of areas.

Boyink said he would no longer volunteer for the city after City Council on Monday night voted down his planned Holiday Road Light Show idea, which was proposed to be set up along Franklin Avenue.

City Manager Pat McGinnis said that he is confident that the Musical Fountain show will go on as planned for years to come. He said that the city is “equipped to maintain” the fountain and continue to operate the show.

“(Boyink) has always been a valuable volunteer, but we will continue to have a Musical Fountain show,” McGinnis said. “I know he was an avid Musical Fountain fan and helped out when he could, (but) it’s not going to be a trauma to the system.”

McGinnis said he fails to see a connection between the light show being denied and involvement with the fountain.

Boyink, however, defended his decision to step down.

“I'm tired of continuously giving and trying to do good, only to be continuously be beaten down," he said. "Why should I continue to help a city that apparently does not want to be helped, and put so little value in the people who try to better it?

“I'm tired, I've had enough, and it's time to fade away," Boyink said.

Boyink’s partner has also decided to take down the custom creation software for the Musical Fountain and close the website for the service.

Despite the city’s assurance that the fountain show would go on, Boyink said there are some concerns. They include getting LED lights permanently set up, dealing with the software package and communications to run the fountain, interfacing the fireworks with the fountain for both the Fourth of July and Coast Guard Festival, and even putting lights on Dewey Hill for the Coast Guard Festival.

“I wish them only the best success and hope they can resolve these issue before the next season,” Boyink said.

Monday night’s decision by City Council to reject the light show also marks the end of Holiday Road’s run. Boyink said the show is done.

“It’s been seven wonderful years,” he said. “Every time we found a location, there’s someone there to fight you on it."

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



And I hope with this article, this is the LAST we have to hear about it. Buh bye.


Is someone forcing you to read the article?? If you don't want to hear about it genius then don't read about it.....pretty simple eh?

Jeeez Louise, how do you people find your way home at night?


Why is it necessary to post his picture? Is the tribune into public shaming now?


I have had no prior knowledge about the musical fountains technical operations until I read this article. After reading the first few sentences the first thing that came to mind was, "why would they publish this guys picture"? The following thought was,"here the Tribune goes again with its 'punishing agenda'; if we don't like what you've done, then we'll try to embarrass you anyway we can get away with'." After all, they are the great Grand Haven Tribune, the only newspaper in town supported by the Christian community and of course with God's blessing.

Jim Swarts

It's a nice picture. Mr. Boyink is not shamed by this article nor does he believe there was any attempt to shame him. It's a good article.


Brad, Jim, SignalMaintainer, and the other team volunteers: A unique opportunity came your way that required your time, talent, energy, and dedication to the community, and it appears you answered the call with great enthusiasm. You were instrumental in helping to create the magic that comes from the alchemy of light, water, and music. This magic is reflected on the happy faces of young families dancing under the stars, couples of all ages sitting on benches, smiling and toe-tapping, and teens rapping, and faces aglow with the wonder of Christmas lights on a wintry evening. This is your legacy, and my family and I thank and appreciate you for your service and good work. You are an inspiration to others and models of citizenship to which we should all aspire.


Hear hear.


I don't think it's the quality of the picture in question - just the fact that they had to post his picture in order to show who the "bad guy" is. Brad has been banging his head against the wall for YEARS with the city counsel. It's a wonder he lasted so long. Thanks Brad for everything you've done.


The fountain has been around for more than 50 years now. I would be very concerned if this public treasure had been so tightly aligned with a single person that their separation would have caused trauma. It sounds like the situation is under control . . . and I hope that it is.

It think there is a LOT for all sides to learn from this situation. The city, Brad and the Main Street organization. The city needs to make sure (and apparently this is the case) to have succession plans in place for critical operations, Brad needs to make sure they do not put all of their emotional "eggs" in one basket that when something happens things fall apart for them. Lastly and the one that seems to be the biggest mystery to me is what was MainStreet thinking? A shopping venue saying "this would bring too many people to our shopping district". Talk about things that make you say "WHAT?".

Considering all of the traffic that Coast Guard Festival and our Fourth of July celebrations bring to the downtown area, maybe the Main Street organization needs to pass a resolution opposing these events as well.


The fountain will go on just fine without Brad. I know several of the current volunteers and staff and you could not find a more talented and knowledgable group if you tried. They know the fountain inside out.

I was involved with the fountain before Brad and Jim came into the picture with their playback software.

While Brad always took the public credit for the LED's and other improvements the fact of the matter is that there were and still are several volunteers hiding in the shadows who do the majority of the work without ever taking public credit while Brad stands in the spotlight. I bet the public has never heard of these volunteers who give their heart and time to the Musical Fountain. Those who spend countless hours of their own time without the lure of publicity to make sure the show runs each and every night. From installation to wiring, and well beyond, it was not just Brad. I know of at least two volunteers who have spent countless evenings working on the LED installation; sometimes as late as 4am!

The software has always been Jim and Brad and they have never formally handed it over to the city which in my opinion is bad practice. I do not know if it is simply a rumor or if there is truth to this statement, but several months ago it was stated that new software is in the works from a 3rd party.

In my opinion I feel the city, residents, and tourists of Grand Haven have nothing to worry about in regards to the Musical Fountain.

Jim Swarts

Thank you for your continued criticisms. They were most helpful in revealing your identity, and now we understand why you feel compelled to bash Mr. Boyink. Let us help you with some holes in your "facts".

Mr. Boyink and I began working on software for the Musical Fountain in 1992. Dr. Creason, Terry Stevens, and, well, you know who, provided us with useful information, source code to the old TRS-80 software, insight into how things worked, and ideas for the future.

Somewhere around 1995 (check City Council meeting minutes), Mr. Boyink and I offered our new development software for free to the city. The city rejected our offer. Mr. Boyink gave them the materials we had received, and we walked away from the project.

In the early 2000's, the Musical Fountain Committee asked Mr. Boyink to join. Most members were disappointed with their current software, developed by Archie (sorry, I don't know his full name), and wanted to use our Animated Choreographer instead. We provided the software without asking the city for its blessing. After all, why face another possible, formal, city rejection? The people who wanted it got it and used it. That was what mattered.

Roger Jonas and Mr. Boyink advocated a new format for the fountain. This would include modern music, no themed shows, and a jukebox-style playback system to allow songs to be played at will. The Fountain Committee approved the idea, and I wrote the Jukebox Playback software that runs fountain side.

As for updating the lighting, let's remind everyone that the old lights consisted mainly of aged airport landing lights. One "brilliant" suggestion was to replace them with car headlights! Whereas others might have discussed LED lights, it was Mr. Boyink who took action, worked with the city, and made them a reality. Talk is nice; action is better.

Mr. Boyink was one of the volunteers who was on the hill until 4:00 AM working on the lights. Jason and John, who help operate and maintain the Fountain, were the other two. While they worked there, I worked at home debugging the software so the premiere show would happen as planned that evening.

Obviously the lighting changes were the most noticeable upgrade. People don't see the asphalt paving, the plumbing upgrades, etc., so it only follows that lighting received the headlines. People know Mr. Boyink for his holiday lights and work on the Fountain, so the media turned to him. Mr. Boyink did not submit press releases, did not make phone calls, did not post signs, and did not take any other action to get attention. The media came to him. Why do you insist otherwise?

At most, Mr. Boyink answered media questions about the lighting and the software. Please show us where Mr. Boyink took credit for "other improvements".

The Jukebox Playback software was updated earlier this year to support the LED lights and was modified to handle the upcoming changes to the Allen Bradley system. That software is fully operational at the Fountain now and will remain there until someone decides to replace it. Persisting rumors that anyone has crippled the Fountain by taking back software is equal to lying in an attempt to make Mr. Boyink look bad.

The Animated Choreographer remains in the hands of those who have used it, and they are free to pass it along to anyone. A slightly outdated version is available at This is the version most people use. A minor update was made but never integrated into the installer because the needed utilities were no longer easily accessible.

Additions of LED effects and more colors were being added to the Animated Choreographer, but that version was never released to anyone, not even Mr. Boyink. The software seriously shows its age and has sat "as is" for about 10 years, so this undertaking was proving not to be an easy one. Even before the addition of the LED lights, Mr. Boyink was suggesting an all-new choreography system. He even discussed this matter briefly with the city and Terry Stevens. His idea was to create a web site in HTML5 to allow anyone, anywhere to program shows.

Knowing what I now know, I don't think some of the criticisms against Mr. Boyink are about his ego. I think they have more to do with the bruised ego of the critic.


THANK YOU Mr.SWARTS for setting the RECORD & FACTS STraight on BASHING Brad..I have known Brad since the 1st year on Harbor Island with HRL, since then i have HELPED out with mostly Traffic an LOVED EVERY SECOND of it.The City Manager cant find the Connection with the Fountain an the LIGHTS well all i have to say that EXPLAINS why SOME PEOPLE cant see past there own NOSE.I have known Brad to be a CARING,LOVING Person an the things he has done for the City etc PROVE that in EVERYTHING he says an DOES.MAYBE (if Brad dont SHOOT ME ) he needs to be VOTED IN as City Manager or MAYOR because the IDIOTS we have so far arent for the PEOPLE at all..


THANK YOU Mr.SWARTS for setting the RECORD & FACTS STraight on BASHING Brad..I have known Brad since the 1st year on Harbor Island with HRL, since then i have HELPED out with mostly Traffic an LOVED EVERY SECOND of it.The City Manager cant find the Connection with the Fountain an the LIGHTS well all i have to say that EXPLAINS why SOME PEOPLE cant see past there own NOSE.I have known Brad to be a CARING,LOVING Person an the things he has done for the City etc PROVE that in EVERYTHING he says an DOES.MAYBE (if Brad dont SHOOT ME ) he needs to be VOTED IN as City Manager or MAYOR because the IDIOTS we have so far arent for the PEOPLE at all..


The community should thank Tchambers and the quiet majority of volunteers who have dedicated themselves to this project without thought of gain or fame!


Give it a rest already. You're just making yourself look bad.


Very well put, it seems the majority of the time many posters on here including TChambers and theQuin leave a feeling in me that is nothing more than your screen name.


What a stupid shortsighted decision to deny the Holiday light show. If it brings people downtown during that time it can only help the merchants. If Grand Rapids had denied Art Prize organizers 5 years ago it would have been a huge loss to all West Michigan.

Back to the Wall

It is a common misconception that downtown Grand Haven is limited to hot dog stands, coffee shops, taverns and tee shirt shacks. These are businesses that benefit from a massive influx of people making purchases incidental to their visit.

There are other businesses in downtown Grand Haven that see a massive DECREASE in customers during carnivals, parades, and fireworks. Opticians, jewelers, galleries, sporting goods, book stores, boutique clothing, and electronics all close their doors during the street jamming festivals. These business people all have a stake in the quantity and quality of customer that is drawn into the downtown area. Customers at these establishments regularly spend hundreds of dollars, sometimes into tens of thousands, during a visit. Yet these are the same customers who avoid downtown during the street jamming festivals.

Downtown Grand Haven is also the home of banks, insurance agents, architects, attorneys, realtors and residents. YES! Families actually live and work there in the first three blocks of Washington Street. These people have as much right as anyone to fair use and enjoyment of their property.

Continually closing the street and parking to the whims and wishes of the special interest du’jour is not in the interest of long term urban health. The DDA’s job is to set goals, prioritize, and make the choices that will allow a healthy coexistence of local and tourist focused business.

I leave you with this: Downtown Grand Haven has choices. There are two points on that spectrum of choice that I’ll illustrate.

First: Envision Mackinaw Island in November. It is empty, closed; dead. Mackinaw Island (the city on the island) is hot dog stands, coffee shops, taverns and tee shirt shacks that depend on every tourist to buy things 5-10 dollars at a time.

Second: Envision downtown Traverse City or Holland. These areas are a healthy mix of service, retail, a crabby tobacconist, and professional business. The residents support the area’s merchants, and the spending capacity of these area's residents and visitors is much deeper than the island’s typical day tourist.

Who do we want to welcome into Grand Haven?


It sounds like I am not welcome in Grand Haven. That is a real shame.

There is a common misconception that Grand Haven is confined to the corridor along Harbor Avenue and Washington Street. Grand Haven is also home to thousands of residents who do not benefit, directly, from the retail stores you list.

The explanation of the economic considerations that led to DDA's recommendation is certainly appreciated, but let's not forget that there are thousands of people in the area who would have been enriched (though not financially) by such an event. YES! Families in the area welcome attractions such as this, especially if there is a charitable cause benefitting, even if those families aren't fortunate enough to visit a boutique shop and pull out the checkbook.

I am no urban planner, but I suspect that if your goal is to establish GH as an upscale resort town (riff raff need not enter), then you could do without building more abandoned spaces at the town's entrance.

There is nothing wrong with trying to establish a good clientele for your business district on Washington, but the tone of the explanation could use some work. Same could be said for this response.

Back to the Wall

No hassle, you're local! You belong here and you qualify for the local discount, haven't you heard?


Technically I *used* to be local, but now I am one of the loathed Grand Rapidians clogging up M-104 or M-45 in the late evenings. I will still take you up on the local discount, though.


Are any of these business you are concerned about open during the light show? Any jewelry shopping or banking going on? Many of the merchants open around 10ish or whenever they get around to it. Close up shop anytime between 3 and 5. The light show traffic in the middle of winter could do nothing but help any business downtown if they even choose to be open.


Do you know how ridiculous your comment sounds??? If you want GH to remain a quiet community get rid of any and all festivals that would allow visitors to invade your peaceful existence.


You wont play the way I want you to, so im taking all my toys and going home. Perfect example of a volunteer who does things to help and then lets the publicity go to his head. If I really was about Special Olympics he would find a way to cooperate with people to make it happen. Instead he throws a tantrum and pulls the "look at all I have done for you" card.


How many people before Monday knew I had anything to do with the Musical Fountain? And to that fact, how many of you had any clue that I was involved with the programming software or was responsible for the new LED lighting design? My guess is very few.

When the new LED lighting system was going in and it came time for the rededication I explicitly asked Ken Formsma to leave my name out of it. The night was about the Fountain and the new lights, not me. If I'm truly the ego maniac some of these posters want you to believe, why are most of you just now learning of my involvement? My father once said to me that people often confuse drive and passion for arrogance and ego. Yes I'm proud of everything I have done, but the Fountain has always been a team effort. None of us do it for fame.

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.

Are the lights and fountain directly related? No, but to cast aside a 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. Additionally, Public Safety approved the traffic plan.

My point, the city is willing to take, but has too many strings attached if you ever want to ask for something back. The city owes me nothing, but a chance and a belief that I was trying to do something good for the entire community should have been considered. Only the view of a few MSDDA board member merchants was considered. What about the rest of the community?

It's over, I respect their opinion, and life moves on. The only "toys" I took from the Fountain was my knowledge, skills, and time.

Jim Swarts

Again, let me help with the facts.

The "toys" are still in place, including upgrades for upcoming improvements at the Fountain. Only the volunteer has left.

An entire board, including two parents, one sister, and one brother of several Special Olympians, made the decision to end the light show, not Mr. Boyink alone.

The City of Grand Haven (albeit not the current council) said "no" to Mr. Boyink's offer of software for the Musical Fountain.

The City of Grand Haven said "no" to Mr. Boyink and Holiday Road Charities in regard to the light show.

Mr. Boyink finally got fed up and said "no more for me".


I am going to stay out of this whole fiasco since I do not have a horse in this race (except helping to ensure that the fountain remains operational), but like Dan said, the fountain will be just fine. In fact, next year is looking to be VERY promising. Here is a sneak peak:

Brad has left the software on the fountain computer and the fountain will be perfectly functional. No worries there. Like said by Jim, the choreographer is currently available on the site and I also have a copy of the installer, as well as the version that lets you create marks with the space bar on a back up drive.

Towards the end of the season, we have received seventeen new songs, almost all of which have been programmed by a very talented programmer with many more to come next year. His attention to detail is just out of this world. When we test the songs, if he sees something he does not like, he takes it back and fixes it. This results in the music, water, and lighting all being perfectly in sync. The above video shows a bit what I am talking about.

Additionally, a 0.45 second delay is being added (the music is playing 0.45 seconds ahead of the water and lighting commands) to allow the sound waves enough time to reach the waterfront stadium at the exact moment that the water and lights react; something that has not been done in years, and has caused most of the existing programs to feel 'disconnected' from the music (although, to the operator on the hill, the shows always looked perfectly in sync). The delay now actually makes a huge improvement (isn't it funny how our brains notice very subtle timing issues like that?). Additionally, all of the audio files are being replaced with clean, lossless versions that have not been compressed or improperly edited (resulting in loss of dynamic range and distortion/clipping being introduced into the waveform). The result of this, along with the massive sound system improvements by Jerry at Amplified Audio (a local GH audio company that is awesome to work with; they also do the sound reinforcement at Worship on the Waterfront) will be a MUCH better sounding fountain.

Anyway, with all the new songs coming in, designed for the LED's, spanning a wide variety of genres and moods, I strongly feel that 2014 is going to be a very successful season! Be sure to come check out the shows once we start back up in the spring as you will be hearing and seeing mostly new programs!


SignalMaintainer choreography work is nothing less than amazing. As he has said the Fountain will move on, there will be new shows, and it will continue to become even better.

I highly recommend getting involved. The Animated Choreographer software continues to be available at Download it, create a show, submit it, and give back to your community. You will be amazed how gratifying it is. And regardless of what anyone tells you that gratification is not an inflated ego.


Can't forget Ryan Strayhorn either as he programmed the majority of the new songs. His new stuff blows mine clean out of the water. Visitors to the fountain may have seen a sneak peek at the upcoming shows for next year over the past month or so. They are simply incredible.


"In fact, next year is looking to be VERY promising. Here is a sneak peak:"

Now that's more like it! Looks great! Makes me want to give it a try and see what I can there any limit as to how long the song can be? I have a idea of a tune I'd love to program, but it's a bit longer than your typical top 40 hit.



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