Winter weekend attraction

Becky Vargo • Jan 23, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Carey Morris makes sure she goes to the Pronto Pup Winter Weekend every year.

It was a family event Sunday afternoon as Morris edged her way along Harbor Drive, in line for two hours to get a chance to have a treat normally available only in the summer.

It was worth it, said her daughters, Mackenzie and Alexis. Their exchange students, Alexandra and Jasmine, said it was one of the best foods they had tried in the five months they have been in West Michigan.

They were all smiles as they posed for selfies with the Pronto Pups in front of the white and yellow stand.

People in the crowd waited quietly until it was their turn to get the battered hot dog on a stick.

Employees Chelsea Gettings and Caitlynn Page worked as fast as they could to get the treats out the window of the small stand located on the Grand Haven waterfront.

Owner Carl Nelson said you’re only as fast as your servers, noting proudly that his daughter was a “demon,” when it came to the turn around.

“She’s on her way,” his wife, Nancy said, as she helped Carl carry stacks of clear plastic boxes of hot dogs into the booth.

“Just shy of $3,400 worth of hot dogs,” was what Nelson estimated was purchased for the weekend event. He also estimated they would go through about 150 pounds of their special flour mix.

Customers were buying the Pronto Pups by the handful, some plain, some coated with ketchup and mustard.

The price was $1.75 per Pronto Pup. All of the profits from the weekend event are being donated to the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation’s Save the Catwalk Fund.

Carl said it was amazing, how the people are so calm during the long wait in line.

“It’s almost turned into a social event,” he said, waving as a car horn sounded as someone drove by the line. “I never heard a complaint about the line. And when they get their food, they turn around and say ‘it was nice meeting you,’ to the person behind them.”

“The line yesterday was past the Corps of Engineers building,” he said. “I heard it was a three hour wait. 

Fortunately the weather cooperated this year, with temperatures in the upper 30s and 40s on Thursday and Friday, into the low 60s and sunny on Saturday, and back into the low 40s on Sunday.

Nelson said normally it’s so cold out that it’s hard to stay warm inside the stand, even with the hot oil bubbling.

“Your feet get so cold,” he said.

It was a little cold on Sunday for some of the people standing in line. 

Mark Spedoske of Jenison said members of his family took turns standing in line while the others had a drink and stayed warm inside the Snug Harbor restaurant, located next to the Pronto Pup stand. 

“We sat by the window so that we could see the line,” he said.

Spedoske said he likes to come to the event every year to celebrate his birthday.

The stand opened a day early this year. 

Nelson said he opened without announcing it on Thursday for a regular customer, Betty Phelps, so she wouldn’t have to stand in line.

“She comes with her 99-year-old brother, Tony,” Nelson said. “Once she was here we posted we were open.”

The owner said Thursday was nice – that they got to ease into the weekend event, but that it was still busy.

Warm temperatures and sunshine brought crowds to the lakeshore, many of them waiting in line for three hours to get the hot dog on a stick. 

Even though they officially closed at 8 p.m., Nelson said they continued to work until every customer in line at that time had food.

“We served the last customer at twenty to ten,” he said.

Nelson said they planned to do the same on Sunday.

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