John Ball Zoo Celebrates 125 Years

John Ball Zoo Celebrates 125 Years Entrance SignThey say that from death comes life. If bringing joy and enrichment to millions of children and adults is any indication of life, then this old saying rings true as the John Ball Zoo celebrates it’s 125th Birthday.


John Ball’s Land Willed for Public Use

In 1884, Grand Rapids native John Ball died, and left in his will a 40 acre plot of land – not to family – but to the City of Grand Rapids for public use. In its infancy, the plot was used as a public park. Around 1891, the land slowly began acquiring animals. First, just a few birds in cages and native animals like squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits. Over the years, deer, bear, peacocks and other more spectacular animals of the time were introduced to the park.

Ups and Downs During the Depression

The zoo saw additional growth in its animal population from 1902 to 1925, and a pavilion and statue were constructed in dedication to John Ball also during that time. When the Great Depression hit, many animals were forced to be moved due to inability to meet the cost of food and care for the animals. Records show many purchases and sales of animals as the Depression continued, as well as DNR boarding of animals at the zoo during this time.

Zoo Grows to 140 Acre Park, 1000+ Animals

As WWII ended, Grand Rapids residents became frustrated with the lack of funding for the zoo, and made their voices heard that they wanted to rebuild the zoo. From the 1950’s on, the John Ball Zoo received funding from many of Grand Rapids’ prominent residents, and grew over the decades to become what is now a 140 acre park that is home to 237 species and over 1,000 animals.

Happy Birthday Tiger Shark John Ball Zoo 125 Animal Birthdays

125th Birthday Celebration

This year, the John Ball Zoo celebrated 125 Years with many festivities. Most notable was the ‘125 Days of Animal Birthdays’ event. Each day for 125 days, an animal was honored with a Birthday sponsored by local businesses and individuals. On the day my daughter and I attended the Zoo, we celebrated the Birthday animal of honor: the Tiger Shark. I thought it was a fun way to put the spotlight on each of the animals, and also use a memorable event like a Birthday to show kids that animals are living, breathing things just like them.

Other 125th Birthday celebration events for John Ball Zoo included:

  • RendeZoo 2016 – Let Them Eat Cake – This annual event is the largest fundraising source for the Zoo each year. This year’s event highlighted the zoo’s Birthday theme with cupcakes, party hats, live music, and more.
  • Public Celebration Week – In addition to animal birthdays, special Birthday treats were served to park guests throughout the week, along with giveaways and special entertainment.
  • Members Night – Pass-holding Zoo members were able to party at the zoo, which included photos with the John Ball Zoo statue, animal training demonstrations, and frosted Birthday cookies.

The Zoo’s 125th anniversary was topped off with the final event of the season, the annual ‘Zoo Goes Boo!’ with trick-or-treating, decorations, and other Halloween Fun. Congratulations to the John Ball Zoo on 125 years of bringing the love of animals to so many!

Meijer Celebrates 80+ Successful Years

Meijer in Greenville, MichiganOne-Stop Shopping

Meijer is a pioneer of one-stop shop retail stores. Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Meijer stores include large fresh produce and meat departments, general grocery departments, a bakery, deli, and pharmacy, apparel departments, home goods, a garden center, hardware and automotive departments, toys, sporting goods, pet supplies, electronics, and more. In addition, Meijer has a “Made in Michigan” section, carries a large selection of Michigan made wines and craft beers, and focuses on carrying higher quality items at affordable prices. All of these unique offerings have made Meijer a staple to consumers in the Midwest.

Innovative History

Meijer has a history of innovation. Some of the important milestones in the company’s long history include:


Hendrik Meijer along with his 14 year old son Fred Meijer, opened the first Meijer’s Grocery in the front of his barber shop in Greenville, Michigan to provide his customers with affordable groceries during the Great Depression. By 1936 the store had doubled in size.


Meijer is among the first stores to offer shopping carts, making the shopping process faster, easier, and more convenient for customers.


Meijer opened its 2nd store in downtown Cedar Springs, MI­­, which later closed in the 1960’s.  However, four decades later, Meijer returned to Cedar Springs in 2009 with the debut of a new, more efficient, one-stop shop store layout which carries groceries and a smaller selection of general merchandise.


Meijer introduces automated conveyor belts to checkout lanes to provide faster and better customer service.


On June 6, 1962 Meijer opened the nation’s first retail supercenter on 28th Street in Grand Rapids, MI called Meijer “Thrifty Acres”. The birth of this supercenter concept would later become a retail phenomenon.


Meijer celebrates its 50th anniversary as the original supercenter with a customer appreciation picnic in June 2012 at the 28th Street Meijer store.

Today Meijer is established in 6 states in the Midwest including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, with a total of over 200 retail locations.

Commitment to Family and Community

Excellent customer service and respect for team members are values that guided Hendrik Meijer more than 80 years ago when he opened the first Meijer store, and they remain a large part of the company’s core values throughout the years as it has evolved; from son Fred Meijer, to grandsons and co-chairmen Hank Meijer and Doug Meijer. Meijer’s core values are driven by:

  • Meeting customer needs and exceeding their expectations
  • Continuous innovation and improving to be better than the competition
  • Creating a family atmosphere and strengthening local communities
  • A focus on fresh food
  • Creating a safe and healthy environment for team members and offering healthy lifestyle products for customers

These values are demonstrated through excellent customer service, low prices, quality foods and large selections of local, national, and Meijer brand items. Meijer also supports many community events, and donates more than 6 percent of its profit to charities each year.

Meijer is more than just a supercenter. Meijer is a family-owned Michigan company that understands the importance of supporting local communities, and is committed to making the communities they serve better places to live, work and play. Join us in congratulating Meijer on a successful 80+ years!

Pyramid Scheme Bar Celebrates A Rockin’ 5 Years!

The Pyramid Scheme is a popular neighborhood bar, alternative music venue, and pinball arcade, located in Grand Rapids’ downtown Heartside district. It was born out of the realization that there was a need for a mid-size concert venue in the downtown area. The idea was to create a unique atmosphere, mixing art and music, capitalizing on the ideal ­location of the venue. The Pyramid Scheme is situated on Commerce Street, near Division Avenue (The Avenue for the Arts) which is known for its art venues, and is also near Ionia and the Van Andel Arena, so it is able to draw both crowds. It has become a place for the artists, musicians, and locals. The key to the Pyramids Scheme’s success, in addition to bringing in top alternative music acts 2-3 nights a week, has been developing a loyal crowd that will visit the bar even when there’s no live band playing.

In order to get a better understanding of The Pyramid Scheme, it’s important to take a moment to mention the co-owners and their positive involvement in local community. The venue is co-owned by successful local entrepreneurs Mark Sellers, Jeff VandenBerg, and Tami VandenBerg. Each brings a unique blend of talents to the popular bar and music venue. Sellers owns two other immensely popular Grand Rapids bars: HopCat and Stella’s Lounge. The VandenBerg siblings are co-owners of the Meanwhile Bar, also in downtown Grand Rapids, which emphasizes local brews and is known for its positive involvement in the local community. Jeff VandenBerg is also an artist and music promoter who founded Friction Records and is a founding member of the Division Avenue Arts Collective (DAAC). The DAAC is a non-profit that hosts music, art exhibitions, creative workshops, lectures, film screenings, and other performances – all entirely programmed and run by volunteers and the help of the community. Tami VandenBerg also runs the Well House, a nonprofit that provides housing for people who are homeless.

Anniversary Celebration

The Pyramid Scheme is celebrating their anniversary with a weekend of special shows in April. The Pyramid Scheme’s 5 Year Anniversary Show Pt. 1 is on Friday April 22nd and features the bands: Heavier Than Air Flying Machines, Lady Ace Boogie, Man At Arms, and Coffin Problem. Tickets are $10 in advance.

The Pyramid Scheme’s 5 Year Anniversary Show Pt. 2 is on Saturday April 23rd and features the bands Shiner, Mutoid Man, and Child Bite. The band Shiner is re-uniting for this show. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show- get your tickets early because this performance is certain to sell out! As always, shows are 21 and up. For more information, please visit the Pyramid Scheme Bar’s website.

Please join us in congratulating the Pyramid Scheme on a rockin’ 5 years!


Michigan Community Credit Union Celebrating 80th Anniversary

Michigan Community Credit Union Celebrating 80 YearsWhat began as a small community credit union for teachers has become an established 80-year-old cooperative, poised to provide financial services to Michigan residents.


A Financial Community for Educators

First serving only City of Jackson public school teachers, the Michigan Community Credit Union began as the Jackson County Teachers Credit Union in 1936. Over the years, the credit union began expanding its services – first in 1968 to all Jackson County school employees, then in 1979 to both educators and employees of educational facilities in Jackson and Hillsdale Counties.

Opening Doors to the Community

In 2009, after several name changes and further expansion of membership, the Educators and Employees Credit Union invited anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Eaton, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Oakland, St. Joseph, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties, Michigan, to utilize their services. This led to a final name change in 2013, to the Michigan Community Credit Union. With nearly 16,000 members and assets exceeding $131 million, the MCCU has become a financial institution, owned by its members and serving the community with low interest rates and minimal fees.

Community Outreach

The Michigan Community Credit Union doesn’t only serve its community’s residents by providing low interest rates, high yield savings accounts, and free checking accounts. MCCU is dedicated to helping the community grow, as demonstrated by their many charitable contributions to community schools, organizations, and residents. From quarterly grant programs and scholarships to 5k sponsorships, and even special events like “Free Ice Cream Fridays,” the city of Jackson and surrounding areas can see the positive impact of the MCCU and its members.

80th Anniversary Celebration: Prize Patrol Days

In celebration of 80 years in business, the Michigan Community Credit Union is surprising it’s loyal members. 80 scratch-off tickets will be awarded each month on unscheduled Prize Patrol days. Each month’s Prize Patrol days will occur at one branch, alternating at each of the credit union’s four branches in Jackson, Michigan Center, Hillsdale, and Spring Arbor throughout the year. Scratch-off ticket prizes include:

  • Limited edition MMCU 80th Anniversary Mugs
  • $50 Visa Gift Cards
  • One $500 cash prize

To improve chances of getting a scratch-off ticket, MMCU members are encouraged to follow the credit union on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates on where and when the Prize Patrol will take place.

Congratulations to the Michigan Community Credit Union on 80 years of success and growth!

Frederick Meijer Gardens Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a world renowned horticulture and sculpture park located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The original concept of the park was created by the West Michigan Horticulture Society. However, the society needed financial backing to make the dream become a reality. Fred and Lena Meijer embraced the idea, and after 13 years of planning, the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened to the public in 1995. Today, Meijer Gardens hosts more than 600,000 visitors annually, and has been ranked in the top 100 most-visited art museums worldwide by the Art Newspaper.

Throughout the years, Frederick Meijer Gardens has grown exponentially to include the following areas:
• Sculpture Park
• Featured Art Exhibitions
• Horticulture Gardens
o Carnivorous Plants
o Arid Garden
o Woodland Shade Garden
o Perennial and Bulb Garden
• Tropical Conservatory
• Japanese Garden
• Children’s Garden
• Michigan Farm Garden
• Butterflies Are Blooming
• Amphitheater
• Holiday Exhibitions

The Sculpture Park contains more than 50 sculptures from artists worldwide, and is one of the largest collections of outdoor sculptures in the nation. Follow the pathways along the manicured lawns, grassy meadows, and tranquil ponds while viewing the sculptures. The current featured art exhibition showcases five large-scale steel sculptures by Bernar Venet, and can be viewed through October.

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The Horticulture Gardens feature plants from around the world and represent various regions and climates such as arid deserts, woodlands, and tropical rain forests. Plants are selected for year-round interest and each garden is unique, educational, and a natural work of art. The Tropical Conservatory also features the Butterflies Are Blooming Exhibit each spring from March 1 to April 30. It features tropical butterflies from around the world. There are 7000 butterflies and 50 species throughout the exhibition. It’s the largest temporary butterfly exhibit in the nation.



The Childrens Garden is both fun and educational. It encourages interaction and invites children to learn and explore. There are numerous activities including digging for fossils in the Rock Quarry, climbing around in the Treehouse Village, listening to a story or watching a puppet show in the Storytelling Garden, navigating and solving the Butterfly Maze, and more. There’s plenty of family friendly fun for everyone.

Newly opened this summer is the Japanese Gardens. These beautiful gardens were crafted to capture the essence of a traditional Japanese garden, and were designed with tranquility in mind. The gardens feature an authentic Japanese teahouse, a Zen garden, ponds and waterfalls, sculptures, a bonsai tree display, and beautiful plants such as bamboo, Japanese maples, and Japanese flowering cherry trees.

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In addition to gardens and sculptures, Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park features an outdoor amphitheater and hosts a summer concert series featuring both local and world renowned musicians and bands.

In celebration of their 20th anniversary, Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park has a calendar of spectacular events planned throughout the year. They also held a special 20th anniversary concert featuring 17-time Grammy Award winner Tony Bennett.

The Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is always growing and always changing. Whether it be with new plants and flowers in bloom, the addition of art or displays, annual displays such as Art Prize, Butterflies are Blooming, or Christmas Traditions Around the World, there is always something new and exciting to experience. For more information, please visit their website at

Please join us in congratulating Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on their 20th anniversary!

Detroit-Based Better Made Celebrates 85 Years of Snacks

Better Made Snacks LogoBetter Made Snack Food saw its beginnings in August of 1930 as the Cross and Peters company, named after its founders first names.The company started out with one goal: to produce a better potato chip – this led to the company adopting the name “Better Made” in 1934.

Producing a Better Potato Chip

What Better Made believes sets it apart from competitors is using Michigan-grown potatoes 10 months out of the year. Long before locally-sourced became a trend, Better Made was making a commitment to supporting local potato farmers, and in doing so, creating a fresher, better product. The company packaged their potato chips in crude, grease-less, burlap bags, and sold them primarily from their own store outlets, and later on delivery routes.

It Keeps Getting Better

85 years later, Better Made chips are still made solely in the Detroit facility. Approximately 60 million pounds of potatoes are used every year, and from the time the potatoes leave the farm to the time you put a potato chip in your mouth, the product is completely untouched by human hands.

Flavor varieties of potato chips that have been introduced over the years include Bar-B-Q, Sweet Bar-B-Q, Red Hot, Sour Cream and Onion, and Salt and Vinegar. Better Made has also expanded their product line to include popcorn, pork rinds, pretzels, tortilla chips, and even beef jerky.

Better Made also takes philanthropic strides to make their community better. For example, they took a portion of proceeds from their Family and Value Size Potato Chips and $0.99 Pork Rinds during the month of April, totaling over $23,000, and donated it to a former Detroit Red Wings player’s organization, the Ted Lindsay Foundation for Autism Awareness.

85 Days of Summer Celebration

For this monumental anniversary, Better Made wanted to thank their fans for 85 years of snacking, with the 85 Days of Summer Celebration. June 15th through Labor Day, Better Made will give away 50 cases of potato chips each week. Their trucks will show up in locations throughout the state of Michigan, surprising unsuspecting fans with the state-famous snacks. Additionally, one grand prize winner will win a trip to Soaring Eagle Water Park and Hotel in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

Weekly winner of the Better Made 85 Days of Summer Celebration giveaway

One of the weekly winners of the Better Made 85 Days of Summer Celebration giveaway

Mac Wood’s Dune Rides Celebrates 85 Years!

Mac Woods Dune Rides 85th yearThe Mac Wood’s Dune Rides were started by Mac Woods in 1930, as a way to entertain guests staying at his lodge. Soon, neighbors and visitors alike were encouraging him to make it a business.  Mac Wood’s Dune Rides have been providing safe, fun-filled, educational dune rides to the public ever since. Today, they are one of Michigan’s leading tourist attractions, with thousands of visitors experiencing the dune rides each year.

Growing up in West Michigan, I had always heard about Silver Lake and the dunes. However, until recently, I had never been.  I thought the only way to access the dunes was to have your own 4×4 vehicle.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to hear about the Mac Wood’s Dune Rides. I highly recommend taking this tour.  It really is the best way to see and experience the dunes.  They have access to areas of the sand dunes that aren’t accessible any other way- other than hiking.  This allows visitors to experience the dunes natural beauty.

Visitors climb aboard a 20-passenger “dune scooter” which is modified with aircraft tires, allowing for precise control out on the dunes. Be sure to buckle your seatbelt and hold on to your hat! The tour itself is about 7 miles long and lasts about 40 minutes. Our guide was very knowledgeable and good at mixing history and information with humor, making for a very entertaining ride. During the tour you’ll see the diverse eco-culture of the dunes, with breathtaking views of Silver Lake and Lake Michigan, all while experiencing a thrilling dune ride.


So, the next time you’re up for a day trip or find yourself visiting the Silver Lake area, I highly recommend experiencing the Mac Wood’s Dune Rides. Please visit their website for more information.

Please join us in congratulating Mac Wood’s Dune Rides on a successful 85 years!

Making Waves: Monroe Boat Club Celebrates 70 Years

Monroe Boat Club 70th Anniversary Logo“Friendliest club in Western Lake Erie.”
“You won’t believe how much fun it is!”
“Grew up going here… this is a big part of my family.”

These are just a few of the Monroe Boat Club’s glowing reviews on social media. Although its founders could hardly have imagined this type of success in 1945, they would surely find it in keeping with the club’s first bylaw–the “promotion, protection and encouragement of boating for pleasure and sport, with emphasis on good fellowship among its members.”

Boating? Check. A down-to-earth, family-oriented community? Check. And as the Monroe Boat Club marks its 70th anniversary this year, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.


The Monroe Boat Club Present Day

The Monroe Boat Club, Present Day

Founded in 1945, 2015 marks the Monroe Boat Club’s 70th Anniversary. The Monroe Boat Club is located in the Bolles Harbor of Refuge on Lake Eerie in Monroe, Michigan, and attracts competitive and hobbyist boaters alike.

The club’s roots date back to the late 1800’s, when the club was known as the Monroe Yacht Club, a social hub in Monroe, Michigan known for it’s Muskrat dinners just after the turn of the century. When the Monroe Yacht Club merged with Bolles Harbor Boat Club, the Monroe Boat Club was born.

All Hands On Deck

In its beginnings, the club hosted monthly meetings in a member’s barn. After several years, the club began to develop into the Monroe Boat Club we see today; a lumber donation and the hard work of club members brought a two-story clubhouse to fruition. By 1979, the club boasted permanent docks, an adequate sea wall, a bar, and a clubhouse addition used for parties and social events.

Monroe Boat Club in 1949

The Monroe Boat Club, in February of 1949

Further expansion came over the following decades, with additional bar space, a stronger protective sea wall, an outdoor shelter, and more docks.

The Monroe Boat Club has 135 docks accommodating boats of 16’ to 60’ in length, more than 400 members, and an enthusiasm for competitive sailing and power yacht cruises. Club events are numerous, including Regattas, Sail Fleet Races, an annual Commodore’s Ball, holiday parties, poker runs, and much more.

The Docks at the Monroe Boat Club

The Docks at the Monroe Boat Club

For its 70th Anniversary, a commemorative 70th Anniversary logo was created. The logo includes the words “Promote,” “Protect,” and “Encourage,” citing the club’s first by-law, which states that “The object of this club shall be the promotion, protection and encouragement of boating for pleasure and sport, with emphasis on good fellowship among its members.”

Congratulations to the Monroe Boat Club for 70 exciting years!