Fall is in full swing this week with nearly every major haunted attraction opening, including The Haunt and Forest of Fear. Plus, the Fall Parade of Homes and Heritage Hill Home Tour return and Pulaski Days takes over Grand Rapids' west side. Frederik Meijer Gardens celebrates a new Jaume Plensa exhibit with a special young professional event.
"The rules are simple, you only need a pillow and a solid colored t-shirt". So starts the description on the Facebook event page for a large-scale downtown pillow fight taking place at Rosa Parks Circle Sunday, September 28. At 2 p.m., an estimated 3,000 participants will seemingly appear out of nowhere, match up with their teammates comprised of friends and strangers wearing the same color shirt, and fight those wearing different colors for five minutes.
The event is part of Heritage Hill resident Rob Bliss's 'Urban Experiments', downtown social experiments that are intended to showcase what can be accomplished by a mass of people in a fun way. With the numerous pillow fight participants only wearing the accepted colors of Black, Brown, White, Green, Orange, Red, Yellow and Blue/Purple, Bliss hopes that Rosa Parks Circle will have the appearance of a living canvas revolting against itself.
The event is free and open to any participant, and only cotton and feather pillows will be allowed. To date, nearly 35,000 invitations to take part have been sent out on Facebook.
Fall begins with a jam-packed week of events around Grand Rapids. Oktoberfest West Michigan returns to John Ball Park Friday and Saturday, and both Rockford and Fallasburg (Lowell) host their annual autumn festivals. Plus, 'Avenue Q' and 'Well' open this week downtown and on Sunday afternoon, Rosa Parks Circle will be the site of a giant pillow fight.
The celebration of the the transition of summer to fall returns to the center of Eastown September 20, beginning at 9 a.m. Wealthy Street will be closed to traffic from Lake Drive to Atlas Street and dozens of local artists will be selling paintings, pottery, sculptures, jewelry and clothing.
Participating restaurants include Yesterdog, the Pita House, Bombay Cuisine, Don Rafav's and Brandywine and local retailers like Spirit Dreams and Eastown Antiques will offer specials.
Sixteen local bands spanning the genres of jazz, bluegrass, reggae and rock will perform throughout the day on the two outdoor stages. Live music schedule:
2008 Bud Lite Stage:
12:30 - 1:15: Left Hand Daisy
1:35 - 2:20: The Effort
2:40 - 3:25: Mighty Narwhale
3:45 - 4:30: Common Shiner
4:50 - 5:35: Rick Chyme and Nixon
5:55 - 6:40: Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire
7:00 - 7:45: Simien the Whale
Summer comes to a close with can't-miss events this week like the Eastown Street Fair, Fallfest Bluegrass Festival and the Fall Bridal Show. On Wednesday, the McCain-Palin campaign visits Grand Rapids and the UICA breaks ground on their new location at Fulton and Division.
Check out complete guide to local fall & harvest activities, festivals, parties, haunted house listings, hayrides, Halloween parties, trick-or-treating and much more taking place in and around Grand Rapids.
Here are some highlighted events happening throughout October:
The Haunt - One of the largest and most popular haunted attraction in the area is back October 3rd, this time with expanded indoor and outdoor attractions. Inside, the Haunt has increased to 25,000 sq. ft. and features dozens of professionally designed sets and rooms. Outside, last year's new attraction, The Dark Maze has grown to 15,000 sq ft. for 2008. Ticket prices: general admission to The Haunt is $14, VIP is $20; Dark Maze & Haunt combo tickets start at $22. $2.00 and $5.00 off coupons available at Peppinos Pizza and Family Video's outlets. Not recommended for children under 10.
Robinette's - Belgian draft horses take visitors on an authentic hay wagon through Robinette's apple and fruit orchards on Saturdays (11a-5p) and Sundays (1p-5p) during September and October. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for kids under 12. The cider mill and wine tasting room are also open. Located at the East Beltine & 4 Mile Rd.
The Grand Rapids Downtown Alliance will kick off a new series of downtown activities and entertainment with a special performance by the Radio City Rockettes at Rosa Parks Circle Tuesday, September 9. Free and open to the public, the 6 p.m. event will feature dance lessons led by four members of the world-famous troupe followed by swing dancing and live music by the Beltline Big Band.
Before the Rockettes take the stage, the Downtown Alliance will officially introduce 'Lets go. Out: The Downtown Outdoor Entertainment Strategy', an initiative to expand the range and frequency of events taking place in Grand Rapids' urban core. The Alliance has noted the success of ice skating, swing dancing and lunch-time concerts at Rosa Parks Circle and looks to promote events that appeal to students, young professionals and families. To help encourage event creation, the Alliance will unveil an assistance program that will award up to $1,000 to help cover the costs of qualifying events, and any individual or organization in the metro area can apply.
Another big week of events follows Celebration on the Grand with both the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and GR Symphony opening their seasons, Mexican Heritage Festival at Calder Plaza, Daughtry and GR's Pop Evil at the Allegan County Fair and the Professional Bull Riders at Van Andel Arena. On Tuesday, the Rosa Parks Programming Series kicks off with a special performance by The Rockettes.