Tag Archives: Christmas

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Wows in Grand Rapids

As if they planned their performance down to even the weather, Trans-Siberian Orchestra arrived in Grand Rapids as soft blankets of snow covered the city sidewalks and trees lining the way to Van Andel Arena.

TSO has entered its 21st consecutive year of touring and cornered the Christmas Metal market. Perhaps such a niche was once so small that it seems almost reasonable that such an achievement would appear unimpressive. However, two decades and over 17 million tickets later, TSO proves that carving out their own space in the saturated Christmas scene is as much a result of finding a unique presentation to grab hold as it is their quest to present a truly remarkable show in its own right.

Part rock opera and part classic metal concert, TSO provides a show that appeals to all ages and manages to even engage audiences one might not expect to entertain the idea of attending a metal spectacle of screaming guitars, howling vocals and a laser-light show that is second to none.

The audience in attendance runs the gamut from 5 to 85 and everything in between. You might even believe you are arriving for a classical ballet production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with gentle acoustic guitar, piano and Christmas bells laying the soundtrack for packed rows filing to their seats.

You might believe that notion correct as a narrator arrives on stage to set the story outlining the first half of the show and laying the bedrock of a few unique tunes brought to the stage this year. A man in a long overcoat and scarf approaches the microphone with a deep barreling voice made even silkier by the gentle neon glow lighting his performance as the stage transforms into the set of “The Old City Bar.”

What follows is a show that manages to pull off the improbable: a two and a half hour rock show without an opening act, intermission or pause that isn’t planned or efficient in creating an experience as much as a concert.

The show ranges stylistically between traditional Christmas music, Beethoven’s Requiem, arena ballads and more brought alive with dueling guitars, shredding violin and incredible vocal talent that echos stylistic characteristics of 80’s metal bands such as Queensryche and the Scorpions. The show manages to provide auditory and visual breaks with soft acoustic ballads lit only by a spotlight and an arena full of camera flashlights swaying to the music.

These breaks are worked in so seamlessly that the show is bereft of a single moment that quantifies “a good time to slip out” for concessions or a bathroom break. The shows is worth seeing from start to finish.

Two and a half hours later when TSO begins their final medley, Wish Liszt/Requiem/Sarajevo Finale, the audience is snapped out of the trance that managed to move them with such pace that the time has quite literally passed in an instant. The finale did not disappoint as the presentation reaches new peaks and shows TSO at its absolute best with lights beaming, fire shooting and music rocking at full force until the climactic end.

As the band prepared to take their final bow, they brought a young boy up on stage and presented him with one of their guitars from the performance as the boy held the guitar high above his head the band took a bow, the lights came on and the crowds of the most diverse metal audience you could expect funneled out of Van Andel Arena.

Christmas season is officially kicked off in West Michigan.

This Week in Michigan:

With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, here are a few quick reminders of fun to be had around the state this week!

Sports

Monday – Virginia Tech at Michigan State Men’s Basketball (5pm)
Wednesday – Michigan at Eastern Michigan Women’s Basketball (2pm)
Thursday – Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (12:30pm)
Friday & Saturday – MHSAA Football State Finals at Ford Field
Saturday – Olivet College at Davenport Women’s Basketball (1pm)
Saturday – Ohio State at Michigan Football (12pm)

Family Events

All Week – Molecularium at UofM Dome Theater in Ann Arbor
All Week – Wonderland of Lights at the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing
All Week – Santa Gets a Pink Slip at Cornwell’s Turkeyville House in Marshall
Wednesday – Disney Junior Holiday Party in Detroit (6pm)
Friday & Saturday – The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays at Fox Theatre in Detroit

Entertainment

Tuesday – Ski Mask the Slump God LIVE at 20 Monroe Live in Grand Rapids (8pm)
Wednesday – Edgar Winter Band LIVE at The Crofoot in Pontiac (7pm)
Wednesday – Desert Hearts LIVE at Magic Stick 18+ in Detroit (9:30pm)
Friday – Battery: A Tribute to Metallica LIVE at the Fillmore in Detroit (7pm)
Sunday – Trans-Siberian Orchestra LIVE at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids (7:30pm)

The 100th Birthday of the Grand Rapids Santa Parade

There will be several reasons to celebrate during the Art Van Christmas parade this weekend, other than Santa’s early visit to Grand Rapids. This parade serves as a kickoff to the holiday season, and it happens to be the parade’s 100th birthday.

The parade started in 1919 as the Wurzburg’s Santa Clause Parade on Campau Square. Its main goal was to bring people in and excite them for holiday shopping. The parade was soon taken over by the Grand Rapids Jaycees.

It wasn’t until 2010 when Art Van Furniture joined the board for the parade, bringing a partnership with WoodTV8 to broadcast the event on live television.

The parade is currently the second largest in the state and competes with Detroit’s Thanksgiving parade. The event attracts about 30,000 individuals each year, and even more who watch the parade on live television.

Along with Santa’s early visit, promotions coordinator Wayne Bersano said that Miss Michigan 2019 Mallory Rivard will be making a special appearance.

The event is free for families and individual goers, and there will be time for a meet and greet with St. Nick after the parade. More information about the event can be found at https://www.santaparadegr.com/.

Santa Claus’ Early Visit to Grand Rapids

There is simply no better way to kick off the 2019 holiday season than the annual Grand Rapids Santa Parade. This year’s parade will mark the 100th year in a row that Santa Claus has come to town the Saturday before Thanksgiving and greeted the glittering eyes & bright smiles of children from Grand Rapids and beyond.

The “real” Santa Claus, known to those with the requisite North Pole clearances as Kraig Haybarker, is from Lowell, Michigan and resides there with his wife. His journey started in 2002 when two young kids met him at church and called him Santa because he literally resembled the jolly gift and joy giver.

He was then presented with the opportunity from the director of the Chamber of Commerce from Lowell to be their Santa during the holidays. Since then, he has completed studies at CWH Santa School and continues to spread joy wherever he goes.

When asked what the most rewarding part of his job was, Haybarker said the best part was obviously the kids and celebrating their innocence. All negative thoughts and troubles disappear in the moment when Haybarker meets children and their families, he said.

“Every visit I make is rewarding in its own way,” Haybarker stated. In his time as Santa, he has worked with hospice programs for young children and shared that he has attended funerals of kids he’s met while dressed in full Santa gear.

“It was the best way to honor them,” Haybarker said.

All parade attendees will have the opportunity to meet Haybarker as Santa on November 23 for the Grand Rapids 100th Anniversary Santa Parade. The parade is expected to start at 9 am. More details regarding the parade and tips for viewers and participants can be found at https://grkids.com/grand-rapids-santa-parade/.