Thousands of people, from locals to out-of-staters, have converged on the Lake Michigan shore to enjoy the stunning panorama.
And most of them have put their lives, and the lives of their young children, in danger by trudging out onto that ice to play on the icebergs and take photographs.
It’s a tempting situation. The ice along the Lake Michigan side of the south pier is flat and snow-covered, making it an easy walk. There are scattered mounds of slick ice — hazardous but fun for kids of all ages to scramble up and slide down.
The photo opportunities are almost once-in-a-lifetime — families bundled up against the cold, standing on the ice out beyond the end of the piers.
But some of those who snapped those photos found themselves plunged into ice-cold water just moments later.
On stagnant bodies of water, 3-5 inches of ice is plenty to walk on, as long as you use caution.
But on Lake Michigan, and especially on the channel between the two piers — where the ever-flowing Grand River empties into the lake — the ice is much less predictable. Moving water limits the ability of ice to freeze in a uniform manner, leading to weak spots that can spell disaster for those who head out onto it.
The Tribune has received its share of criticism for publishing a collection of photos — taken both by our staff and submitted by our readers — of people venturing out on the ice, while at the same time cautioning people not to do so.
Make no mistake — our coverage doesn’t condone the action. It’s our job to report what’s happening in our area.
It’s hard to blame people for wanting to explore this beautiful winter landscape. But that doesn’t change the fact that walking on the ice is an inherently dangerous activity, and those who partake in it are putting their life at risk.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.