The Grand Haven Musical Fountain is a synchronized water and light show accompanied with music of all varieties. Each 25-minute show features a variety of well-known music and plays daily at dusk from Memorial Day through Labor Day as well as Fridays and Saturdays in May and September.
The fountain is maintained and operated through the support of the City of Grand Haven as well as generous donations by you, our valued Guest. Donations help ensure that the historic fountain is cared for and upgraded for future generations to enjoy.
Designed by a local engineer, William Morris Booth II (who is also the patent holder), and built in 1962 by volunteers at an estimated cost of $250,000, this fountain was based on a Przystawic musical fountain show seen in Germany and was the largest musical fountain in the world when it was built; holding the title until 1998 with the installation of the WET Design built Bellagio Fountains at the Bellagio Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, NV.
The display is comprised of a small number of water formations grouped in odd and even segments, with the same formations on each. Augmented by a curtain of water at the front, a large fan-like array called the Peacock, and three fire hose nozzles – one placed vertically in the center, and the others aimed at an angle from each end – the show produces a Dancing Waters style display.
In addition, nozzles called “sweeps” provide the moving effects, swaying side-to-side. A patented drive mechanism allows each pair of sweeps to follow or oppose each other in direction of movement, to move along long or short paths, hold or oscillate at positions, and to move at any of seven speeds, allowing the moving water to follow nearly any kind of music.
(New in 2015) Lighting is provided by 41 Acclaim Lighting Rebel Drum 36-watt RGB light fixtures roughly 8 inches in diameter as well as two Acclaim Lighting Dyna Drum HO 240-watt fixtures focused on the ‘voice’ stream and spout; the highest water formation, reaching over 160 feet in the air. The lighting units are capable of special effects such as color fading, strobing, twinkles, among others. The beam angle of each fixture ranges from 10 degrees up to 40 degrees and are strategically placed to ensure full-coverage of the water.
The lighting system is controlled through a DMX-512 universe fed by an Enttec DMX USB Pro with Acclaim Lighting X-Power HP Pro power supplies/controllers mounted within the fountain basin feeding the 24vDC required by the light fixtures across six channels (RGBRGB).
The sound system consists of 14 audio amplifiers providing more than 35,000 watts of audio power. There are 32 18″ JBL Subwoofers, and 12 JBL high frequency horns. The Musical Fountain Committee is currently in the early planning stages of upgrading the aging 20 year-old sound system and greatly increasing the audio fidelity our nightly Guests experience.
Control Systems, Hardware, and Programming:
The original control used punched paper cards, and later, DAT tapes with control code embedded in the audio track. Currently, the fountain is controlled by state of the art computers and touch screen programmable logic controllers generously donated by Rockwell Automation.
The nozzles and pumps have never been changed, only cleaned and cared-for; and shows must still be programmed by hand. Even with the simplest of the many programs used to create shows for this fountain, choreographing one three-minute song can take nearly ten hours. While the original shows were quite simple and only featured around 300 lighting and water changes throughout an entire 25-minute performance, the new modern shows average 1,500 commands per song, with some reaching as high as 6,000 lighting and or water commands in a single song. Some of the modern themed shows contain as many as 17,000 water and lighting commands over a 25-minute program.
In late 2014, the proprietary control software for the fountain was updated and greatly expanded by Paul Lyzenga and Terry Stevens of Apex Controls to not only increase reliability of the fountain’s many complex systems, but also greatly expand the functionality that the fountain’s two resident choreographers can tap into. With these expanded capabilities, audiences will begin seeing shows unlike anything seen before in the fountains 53-year history. Individually addressable lights and greatly expanded sweep movements are just a couple of the new features.