Our network

UPDATE: Thousands line up to try water slide in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)-A portion of downtown Grand Rapids looks more like a water park this weekend, as the community welcomes the world's largest water slide.

An estimated 2,000 people began lining up Saturday afternoon for a free trip down the 500 foot slide on Lyon Street. The $50,000 slide was paid for by donations from area sponsors. Organizer Rob Bliss admitted there were some glitches Saturday-crews had to take the bumps out of the slide because riders weren't getting enough speed, and the start time was delayed until 2 p.m. because of weather.
But that didn't stop eager riders from waiting hours to try out the water slide.

"Well, we've been here for four hours," Mark Vandenberg said from his place in the front of the line. "There were people here at six that have since left because they weren't able to get on the slide, but now we're right here. We're almost ready to take the plunge, so we're looking forward to it."

What you need to know before riding the weekend waterslide

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - If you are planning on slip-sliding down Lyon Street this weekend on the large inflatable waterslide, there are a few things you should know.

First, the slide will be open from 8:00am until 10:00pm on Saturday and Sunday on Lyon Street between Lafayette and Division.  This is near the Grand Rapids Community College campus.  GRCC's Bostwick Ramp has all-day passes for just $3. If that is full, the downtown city ramps provide the best parking.

You must wear a swimsuit!  People wearing materials that could rip and damage the slide during a ride will be turned away. Anyone can ride, though for safety reasons a 48-inch height restriction applies to EVERYONE. Also a weight restriction of 300 lbs applies as well.

Grand Rapids Public Schools hosting park parties

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)-For the first time ever, Grand Rapids Public Schools will host a series of back to school park parties.

"The idea here is we're going to have live entertainment, music, kids games, free hot dogs, snacks and water," explained district spokesman John Helmholdt. "There's also going to be a series of information booths for G.R.P.S. [and] also community partners."

The first park party will take place Monday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Clemente Park. Another will happen at the same time Tuesday at Martin Luther King Junior Park. Then next Monday and Tuesday, two more park parties are planned for Aberdeen Park and Lincoln Park.

Thunder Country Jam takes over downtown Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)-Country music fans got a treat in downtown Grand Rapids.

Thousands of people packed Rosa Parks Circle Sunday evening for a free concert, as part of the 94.5 Thunder Country Jam. The radio station lined up a variety of acts, including Chuck Wicks. Visitors also stopped by food and clothing booths and took part in a variety of family activities.

After putting on the HOT FM New Year's Eve Party, organizers say they wanted to do something for local country fans.

"We just really wanted to thank everyone who came on down," said radio personality Scrubs. "If you weren't able to make it down this year, we want you to come next year. This is going to be something that we want to do for everybody in our city; it's going to continue to make our area the best part of Michigan."

In between acts, guests tried to break the world record for largest line dance.

Park Parties begin for Grand Rapids students

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- The first of four back to school parties for the Grand Rapids Public School District was held Monday night at Roberto Clemente Park.

The free parties are open to the public.  They include free hot dogs, chips and refreshments.  Participants can also enter free raffles for backpacks, school supplies and gift cards.  Parents can visit the information booths to learn more about the schools.

Superintendent Dr. Bernard Taylor says, "It's about parents, the community, the school district coming together to build the support out kids need to thrive academically."

The Southeast Park party is Tuesday from 4 - 7p.m. at Martin Luther King Park.  Parties for the northeast and northwest sides will be held next week.

Free shoes to be distributed to thousands of students

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)- Thousands of West Michigan students will be starting off their school year on the right foot thanks to the kindess of strangers.

The non-profit organization "In the Image" is hosting it's annual "S.H.O.E.S." program. S.H.O.E.S. is an acronym for "Shoes Help Our Elementary Students."

This year a record number of shoes will be handed out.

It's been almost a year since Jay Starkey took on the role as Executive Director at In the Image. He says he knows firsthand about the need for the S.H.O.E.S. program and he's worked to expand it.

Excel Academy holds scavenger hunt to help new kindergartners

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Going to school for the first time can be scary for some children, but Excel Academy created a fun way for students to get to know their new surroundings. Rather than a traditional walk through the school, incoming kindergartners took part in a scavenger hunt Tuesday morning.

By following a map across school grounds, students met their teachers and became familiar with the school's classrooms and offices.

The event also helped acclimate the parents.