Walt Disney World Celebrates 50 Years

Cinderella's castle at Walt Disney World lit in rainbow colors at night with fireworks in the sky above

Walt Disney World, long known as “The Most Magical Place on Earth”, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. 

Recognized all over the world as a vacation destination, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida was opened in 1971 as a companion to Disney’s first theme park built 16 years earlier, Disneyland, in Anaheim, California. Today Walt Disney World contains four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom — two water parks, 27 resort hotels, golf courses, camping, and numerous other entertainment venues.

The excitement is palpable at Walt Disney World as they start their 18-month celebration of magic, Mickey, and memories on October 1, 2021. Across all 4 parks, golden statues of 50 Disney characters are scattered, waiting to be discovered by visitors. 50th-anniversary food and drink specials, such as meals inspired by the early days of Walt Disney World, are available throughout Disney restaurants. In addition, special 50th-anniversary merchandise can be purchased in all parks.

Nighttime anniversary attractions include new additions to Walt Disney World’s entertainment. At the Magic Kingdom, the new show “Disney Enchantment” begins, which brings projection effects to Main Street USA and creates an immersive experience. At EPCOT, Harmonious premiers as one of the largest shows that Disney has ever produced. The performance includes pyrotechnics, fountains, and lighting, and includes 240 artists from around the globe.

If you aren’t able to visit Walt Disney World during their celebration, Disney Institute learning offers an on-demand digital course titled “50 Years of Magical Learnings from Walt Disney World Resort”. The course includes access to individual lessons covering teamwork concepts from past and current Disney leaders, digital downloads, and access to future lessons as they are added.

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Pleune Service Company Celebrates 45 Years

Pleune Service Company Work Van

For 45 years, Pleune Service Company has been serving Michigan’s lower peninsula with fast and quality HVAC services and repair. Over time, the company has evolved into a full-service mechanical contractor, with services including new construction, renovation, expedited equipment replacement, project planning, fabrication, and more.

A few unique characteristics set Pleune apart from its competitors:

  • Pleune Service company is 100% employee owned. Pleune touts that as a result, “every customer speaks directly to an owner,” creating more accountability and responsiveness.
  • The company’s HVAC technicians are EPA certified
  • Response is available 24/7/365
  • Fastrac expedited unit replacement department

Started in 1974, Pleune quickly grew, with 37 employees by 1979. About 10 years later, in 1988, Pleune introduced an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Another 10 years later, Pleune developed their Fastrac department, with the ability to evaluate, quote, approve and install equipment in just 3 days. In 2002, Pleune founder and owner John Pleune moved all of his remaining stock to the company’s ESOP, making it 100% employee owned. The Grand Rapids based company continues to grow, with a second office in Lansing, MI and a 10,000 square foot fabrication facility. Pleune is actively involved in community outreach, having sponsored a number of local organizations including Camp O’Malley, Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids, MiCareerQuets, and many, many more.

For its 45th anniversary, Pleune Service Company threw a party for all of its owners and their families, featuring live music, delicious food, and fall harvest decorations. Congratulations, Pleune, on 45 years in business!

Banning’s Restaurant & Pie House Celebrates 40 Years

Banning's 40th Anniversary

Made famous by their large selection of cakes and pies, Banning’s Restaurant in Tigard, just outside of Portland, OR, marks it’s 40th anniversary this year.

The restaurant was opened in 1979 by brothers Craig and Mark Banning. The restaurant met the demand of customers in the 1980’s by staying open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with Christmas Day being the only exception.

This year, the family restaurant celebrates its 40th year in business. 40th anniversary signs are displayed throughout the restaurant and on its website. In addition, the restaurant ran a special contest in celebration of the occasion. Facebook fans were asked to leave a comment with their favorite memory of Banning’s Restaurant.

The restaurant then awarded their favorite story with a $100 Banning’s gift certificate, and 3 names were randomly selected from all comments to each win a $40 gift certificate. The winning story involved one fan having a Monte Cristo sandwich from Banning’s just before heading to the hospital to give birth! Another fan shared how ordering a sandwich from Banning’s led to her meeting her now-husband.

With so many memories, we aren’t surprised this restaurant is in its 40th year of business. Congratulations, Bannings, and we look forward to seeing you celebrate for many years to come!

Paws With A Cause Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Paws with a Cause 40th Anniversary Logo

June, 2019 – Paws With A Cause, an organization that trains assistance dogs and places them with the disabled, is celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year! According to the website, “Paws With A Cause® enhances the independence and quality of life for people with disabilities nationally through custom-trained Assistance Dogs.”

Paws With A Cause is headquartered in Wayland, Michigan. The organization was founded in 1979, and was originally named Ears for the Deaf® until 1989. The founders, Michael Sapp and his wife Antoinette, created the organization to help train their friend’s dog -their friends were deaf and had just adopted a deaf baby – in hopes that the dog could alert the couple to various sounds like their baby crying. As time went on, more and more deaf and disabled people began asking for trained dogs to help them with their daily life, too.

Paws With A Cause now trains 4 different types of assistance dogs:

  • Service Dogs for people with physical disabilities
  • Hearing Dogs for people who are Hearing Impaired/Deaf
  • Seizure Response Dogs for people with seizure disorders
  • Service Dogs for Children with Autism

Over the last 40 years, Paws With A Cause has trained over 2,500 assistance dogs. The organization has also helped work with the Michigan Legislature to ensure laws are in place that benefit Service Dogs and other assistance dogs.

Paws With A Cause created this 40th Anniversary Video to showcase just some of the incredible work the organization has done in the community over the last 40 years.

In addition, Paws With A Cause held a 40th Anniversary Open House at their headquarters in Wayland, MI. The event showcased its new grooming facilities and included guided tours of the facility, assistance dog demonstrations, and plenty of food and fun.

We’d like to congratulate Paws With A Cause on 40 years of changing lives and assisting the community. If you’d like to get involved please see how you can help!

West Michigan Whitecaps Celebrate 25 Seasons

West Michigan Whitecaps 25 Seasons Logo
Grand Rapids based minor league baseball team, the West Michigan Whitecaps, are celebrating 25 seasons of baseball this year. The team was founded in 1993, and was named by Brian Glass in a “Name the Team” contest. This same year, Old Kent Park ballpark and stadium was constructed. The Whitecaps’ inaugural season was in 1994, with their first home game at Old Kent Park held in April against the Burlington Bees. The Whitecaps won, with a score of 5-2.

Since then, the team has seen many changes and accomplishments, including:

  • 13 Managers, including former major league player & manager and 2000 Olympic baseball coach Phil Regan, Former Detroit Tigers third baseman Tom Brookens, former Tigers and major league manager Larry Parrish, and former Tigers catcher Lance Parrish (current team manager).
  • Six MWL Championship wins
  • Renaming of the team’s home field, from Old Kent Park to Fifth Third Ballpark.

This year mark’s The Whitecaps’ 25th Season. Some of the planned celebrations include:

  • 25th season logo
  • 25th Season commemorative t-shirts, sweatshirts, and lapel pins available for purchase in the “Capsized Shop.”
  • A 2018 Ticket kickoff sale featuring a free 25th season t-shirt for the first 50 ticket purchasers, as well as a bounce house, speed pitch game, the Whitecaps Mascots, and free popcorn, cocoa, and Dippin’ Dots.
  • A 25th Season Replica Jersey giveaway for the first 1,000 guests at the Whitecaps’ opening day on April 5th.

More celebrations are expected to be announced in the coming months. Congratulations to the West Michigan Whitecaps on 25 Seasons of Minor League Baseball!

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce Celebrates 125 Years

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce 125th Anniversary Logo

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1893 by Charles Hackley. Previously known as the Muskegon Board of Trade (est. 1979), Hackley and other pertinent members of Muskegon’s lumber industry worked to create an organization that would support economic development and revitalize Muskegon, Michigan.

Since then, the chamber has continued that mission. Major efforts have included establishing the Muskegon County Airport, raising funds to construct the L.C. Walker Arena, and promoting the Milwaukee Clipper ferry.

MLCC January Hist-o-gram story featuring chamber founder Charles Hackley
MLCC January Hist-o-gram Story featuring chamber founder Charles Hackley

Additionally, the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce has been recognized for numerous achievements, including the “Freedom Week” program in 1953, and being commended by the US Chamber of Commerce for having one of the country’s top safety programs in 1957.

The MLCC is celebrating its 125th year by highlighting historic moments in its history each month using “Hist-O-Gram Stories,” a cute play on Instagram Stories. You can learn more about the MLCC’s history and 125th anniversary celebration at www.muskegon.org.

Congratulations on 125 exciting years, and we wish you an even brighter future!

John Ball Zoo Celebrates 125 Years

They 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 Zoo Celebrates 125 Years Entrance Sign

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, Michigan

One-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!