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'It's a symbol of Grand Haven'

Marie Havenga • Sep 8, 2018 at 9:00 AM

The 50-foot-high anchor has been a long-standing icon on Grand Haven’s Dewey Hill during the annual Coast Guard Festival. The grandson of the man who helped put it there now wants to make it a year-round display, complete with LED lighting.

Back in the 1960s, Brad Boyink's grandfather, Bernie, proposed adding an anchor to the top of the dune on the north side of the channel. But it wasn't just an anchor. With interchangeable pieces, the design could be made into a star for the Christmas Nativity scene or a cross for the summertime Worship on the Waterfront services.

Although lawsuit threats in recent years took the cross and Nativity scene from the city-owned property, Brad Boyink is now proposing to keep the anchor on display year-round.

Boyink, a lighting expert who choreographs Grand Haven’s Fourth of July and Coast Guard Festival fireworks displays to music and lights, recently sought opinions on social media. He asked readers if they would like to see the anchor repaired and put on display year-round, or simply leave it alone and use it for 10 days every year until it falls apart.

Nearly 500 people commented. Responders overwhelmingly said they'd like to see the anchor repaired and for it to become a lighted, year-round display.

Boyink estimates the anchor and its housing need about $4,000 worth of repairs. He noted the structure is sound, but it needs some tender loving care.

“The wood of the anchor house is just rotting away,” he said. “It's the original setup up there. Things only last for so long. There are spots that are so bad that someone could fall through.”

Rain water is leaking into the house, which could ruin the motor that is used to raise and lower the anchor. Some rivets and screws need replacing.

“All of this is very fixable, so I have decided to follow in my grandfather's footsteps and try to spearhead a community effort to fix the anchor,” Boyink wrote.

Boyink also wrote a letter to Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis and City Council members, requesting that the anchor becomes a permanent display with the new LED lighting that Boyink and Ryan Strayhorn installed for the Fourth of July and Coast Guard Festival shows.

McGinnis said any such action would require the City Council's blessing.

“City Council would need to approve having the anchor up at any time other than July 4 and the Coast Guard Festival,” the city manager explained. “I think the idea to repair the anchor is fantastic. As far as having the anchor up always and forever, that is a policy issue to be decided following public discussion and a decision by the elected body.”

In 2015, in honor of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 225th anniversary, the City Council approved leaving the anchor up from June 26 through Aug. 5, the last day of that year’s festival.

Boyink said after the Fourth of July and Coast Guard shows, many asked him why the city doesn't leave the anchor up all the time.

“I don't have an answer,” he said. “Honestly, I didn't think I would get more than 20-30 people responding (to his social media query). It went viral. Everyone is saying, 'Hey, fix it. I'll donate. I'll help. I'll redo the wood. I'll give money. Put it up, leave it up, light it at night. It's part of Grand Haven's history.'”

Boyink said he's in the process of preparing a proposal for McGinnis to present to the council.

“If City Council likes the idea, we will go to the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation to see if they can handle the donations for us,” he said.

Boyink said the repair work could take place in the spring.

Boyink said the LED lighting is capable of producing 16 million colors. He envisions the anchor outlined in a solid color, with perhaps variations for holidays, such as pink for Valentine's Day.

“I'm not looking to make this a huge spectacular light show on the hill,” he noted. “There are 600 LEDs on that anchor now and they're all individually controlled by computer. On New Year's Eve, we could have the anchor filling upward in time. When it got to the top, it's the New Year. There are so many things that could be done.”

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