If Grand Rapids Was Stars Hollow From ‘Gilmore Girls’ – The People
With the release of Netflix's Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Gilmore-mania has taken over your Facebook feed. I have to say that I'm a huge fan of the original show and LOVED the remake (though, really, they can't end it like that! They can't! Those last four words!) It got me to thinking about Stars Hollow, and Grand Rapids, and led to me putting this list together.
If Grand Rapids was actually Stars Hollow, who in our city would be some of our favorite characters from the show, and which area locations would be the locations in Stars Hollow that we've all grown to know and love?
Well, if you were wondering those same things, wonder no longer. I've figured it out.
Today, we'll take a look at the people in Grand Rapids that best represent some of our favorite residents of Stars Hollow.
Rory Gilmore: WZZM-13's Jennifer Pascua
Rory isn't known for backing down from a challenge and neither is Jennifer Pascua from Grand Rapids' WZZM-13. Jen proved this just a couple of months ago when she landed a surprise interview with now President-elect Donald Trump while he was touring the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum during ArtPrize. Jen asked such a hard hitting question, in fact, that she received national attention from many, including MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
Lorelai Gilmore: Tami VandenBerg
Tami VandenBerg may not be a household name to you like Lorelai's is, but Tami and Lorelai share some pretty similar characteristics. Lorelai is a strong female business owner who seemingly doesn't take crap from anyone. VandenBerg fits that description to a tee. If you've ever enjoyed a night out at Grand Rapids' Pyramid Scheme playing some pinball, or sat and enjoyed a beverage at The Meanwhile, you've experienced the fruits of VandenBerg's labor. VandenBerg and her brother opened The Meanwhile together nine years ago. This year, VandenBerg also ran for Grand Rapids' 2nd Ward Commissioner (a position previously held by Grand Rapids' Mayor Rosalynn Bliss).
Sookie St. James: Chef Jenna Arcidiacono
While she's not likely to take off for "a couple of weeks" to study plants or dirt or whatever (and then not actually return for two years), Chef Jenna has been known to take a week or two to travel to Italy to study her craft. Jenna is undoubtedly the closest thing that Grand Rapids has to Sookie, and it shows in the food that she serves at Amore Trattoria Italiana. Chef Jenna and her staff pride themselves on serving authentic and delicious food while making it from as many local products as possible.
Taylor Doose: 100.5 The River's Andy Rent (followed closely by Bill Steffen from WOOD-TV8)
*Just a sidenote - I chose these two gentlemen purely for their "unofficial mayor" status in the city, not because they will come and ask you to give a testimonial about your septic tank or write a weird musical about the city.
We chose Andy Rent as Grand Rapids' Taylor because we work with him every day, but also because those of us who work with him have jokingly called Andy "The Mayor" for years. If you attend an event with Andy, you'll quickly learn something he's long kept secret - Andy Rent knows everyone and everyone knows Andy. Andy has been a staple in Grand Rapids' media since the '70s, starting out on television before eventually making his way to radio. Like we said, he's not going to get you to sign a petition so the city can do something weird, but he does have a story for pretty much any Grand Rapids icon, building, or business that you can think of or remember.
WOOD-TV8's Bill Steffen is a man who is just slightly more well-known locally than his own mustache. "Father Bill" as his daughters call him has been a staple in Grand Rapids media since 1974. And just like Andy, everyone knows Bill and Bill knows everyone. And he's everywhere. From parades, to galas, to sitting at the table next to you at your favorite Grand Rapids' restaurant, Bill Steffen is always out amongst the people (unless he's in front of the camera telling us about the next storm set to hit West Michigan).
Luke Danes: Greg Gilmore
Well, to start things off, the man's last name is "Gilmore" which automatically shot him towards the top of our list of possibilities for which Grand Rapidian best represents Gilmore Girls' Luke Danes, but when you break it down, Greg Gilmore and Luke Danes have a lot in common. Both are the owners and operators of hugely successful businesses, and while you can get a slice of pie and some coffee and Gilmore's restaurants, you're likely heading to them for whatever that particular property specializes in. While we learned in A Year in the Life that Luke has no interest in expanding or franchising, Greg Gilmore is constantly expanding what the Gilmore Collection has to offer, with their latest project - 20 Monroe Live - set to open in February 2017. While Gilmore may not wear the signature backwards baseball hat donned by Luke, he has a signature look all his own and it's rumored that no one has ever seen him without a vest on.
Kirk Gleason: Curtis from Channel 957's Connie & Curtis
Curtis may not think that this is a compliment, but it is. Kirk is by far one of the most loveable characters on Gilmore Girls and Curtis is loved because of his similar quirkiness. While not known for night terrors (that we know of), or failed business ventures like Kirk, Curtis is known for saying the unexpected and is famously filterless.
Petal the Pig: Hank (Fox 17’s Christian Frank’s dog)
If you've been around downtown Grand Rapids in the summer, chances are you've met Hank (and as an extension Fox 17's Christian Frank.) He's everywhere and loves everyone (so far as we can tell, though it's always nice to ask before you try to pet a dog you've never met before.)
So, there you have it, our first installment. Tomorrow, we'll check out the places and businesses of Stars Hollow/Grand Rapids. In the meantime, if you haven't checked out Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, do it. We'll get you ready with this trailer: