The Grand Haven Musical Fountain, standing in Grand Haven, Michigan, is a magnificent display of both water and lights. Visitors and Grand Haven residents who drop by Dewey Hill on the north shore of Grand River take pleasure from the fountain shows that take place every night from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There are also weekend shows that run on the months of May and September. The fountain’s performance come in varying themes, and run for about 20 to 25 minutes. It comes with a narration that is played on by a persona of a twelve-year old girl.
The fountain was built in 1962 by volunteers with an estimated cost of $250,000. It was designed by William Morris Booth II, a local engineer. The concept and design of the fountain was based on the Przystawic Musical fountain show in Germany which was considered as the largest fountain musical fountain in the world at the time of its establishment. The fountain’s display is composed of a number of water formations that are grouped and fashioned in odd and even segments. With the use of a fanlike array named as the Peacock, the fountain produces a Dancing Waters style display. For a more entertaining and pleasant display, colored lights are arranged on the front side of the fountain while the back curtain of the Peacock have their own setoff lights. All the lights are in controllable groups of red, blue, amber and white. For the water to have a moving effect of swaying from side to side, nozzles called sweeps are installed. The nozzles work using a patented drive mechanism that allows each pair of nozzles to follow or oppose each other’s movement. The sweeps are able to move at any speed specified by the program. They are also programmed to move along long or short paths. This kind of flexibility allows the moving water to follow and dance to just about any kind of music.
In terms of the fountain’s plumbing, it has a width of 240 feet and its water basin can hold 40,000 gallons of water. The maximum height of spray is 125 feet while water consumption is at 4,000 gallons per minute. The pipes, which have varied sizes from ¼ inch to 16 inches, have an over-all length of 8,000 feet.
Originally, the show is controlled using punched paper cards. Now, with the new system, a computer program is used although shows are still programmed manually. Two to four hours is about how long it takes for a three-minute song to be completely choreographed even with the use of the simplest programs. When it comes to computer programming, approximately two hours are needed in polishing each minute of the show.
All in all, there are 200 lights installed which requires a combined power consumption of 125,000 watts. To achieve various displays of patterns, five colors of light are used and blended. As for the sound system of the musical fountain, 12 high-frequency JBL horns, 14 power amplifiers, 32 600-watt JBL subwoofers and 4 independent zones of control are used.
It was on May 30, 1963 when the musical fountain displayed it first performance. Since then, it has amused viewers throughout the summer. With the exception of the festival on July 4th, it is estimated that the fountain gets viewed by about 10,000 people annually.