Who Is Grand Rapids’ Most Beloved Public Figure?
Someone posted this question online last week, and the answers are all over the place.
Clearly, Grand Rapids Doesn't Have One Fall Back Hero
The question was posted to the Grand Rapids subreddit, and if the answers are any indicator, there is no one public figure we all gravitate towards.
I would say that Roger Chaffee, an answer that was forwarded in the comments to the post, would be one public figure we could all agree on. The late astronaut, who tragically perished in an Apollo moon mission training test, has a street named after him, and displays about him at the GR Public Museum, However, the thread that mentioned his name fell far short of other, stranger answers in the always wild comments section on Reddit.
Everyone And Anything One From The Annoying 'Jim Kardashian' To The Michigan Street Taco Bell Got Mentioned
So let us now take a deep dive into the people and places that our citizens deem 'beloved'.
Herm at Vertigo (Records)
The iconic record, tape and CD emporium on Division Street is a great pace to hang on a Saturday afternoon, and Herm, the owner, is a great guy, who not only knows his music, he knows YOU, as evidenced by this response:
I don't know if Herm actually likes me as a person but when I go in there he's always quick with an enthusiastic greeting that makes me feel like he's legit glad to see me. With all the employees he's had through the years, and not hearing a single bad thing about him in this town where rumors spread like wildfire, I think he's truly a really good guy.
A penny per ride makes this comment quite frugal:
Sandy the Meijer horse
Looking good for 60
You may recognize Sandy's big brother from Meijer Gardens...
Channel 13's trademark earned a couple of mentions:
The (WZZM-13) weather ball
Which, has its own song, if you didn't already know.
Drinking, as we discussed in my previous post, is a big deal in Michigan, so it's not surprise that the owner of arguably the best liquor store would earn a shout out:
Rishi (of International Beverage on 28th Street)
Nicest man ever. I talked to him the first time I went into his store, didn't go back in for like a year and still remembered my name!
I showed this to him and he put his hand on his heart and stepped back. He feels the love.
Here's a nomination I'm not familiar with, but she appears to be an older woman who pops up in West Side bars selling her delicious baked goods:
Banana Bread Grandma
Of course famed facial hair, separated from the man himself go a nomination:
Bill Steffen’s mustache
Came here to say the same but also because of his cats and the Grand Rapids lip sync vid.
Her restaurant no longer stands, but her food is remembered:
If you've ever seen the wonderfully painted electrical boxes in the Creston neighborhood, you'll recognize this guy's name:
Folk artist Reb Roberts.
Reb also ran a folk art gallery downtown on Division for years, from which I have several pieces in my home.
Of course, to be a GR icon, you have to be brightly painted:
The blue bridge
The wild turkey who can be a bit cranky to folks in the East Hills neighborhood got a nod:
Turkey Tom, Grand Rapids would die for this turkey
I was very happy to see someone, anyone, who is a radio legend in this town get mentioned:
Aris Peter* Hampers for the older generations.
Aris was a long time jock at both WLAV and WKLQ. And while we're on the subject of radio, you guys know this reference, right?
The Friday song.
And it's now legal to be in the Shanty putting a good buzz on...
Speaking of old school, how about this cable access musician who loved all the pretty girls in his lyrics:
The Late Great Daryl Nathan R.I.P.
If you ever played in the Northern Little League, you'll recognize this guy for his constant cheering from the sidelines:
Dave from Riverside Park
There's only one pop culture refence to GR that needs to be honored:
Ash's Boomstick from Army of Darkness
I know carbs are a bad word these days, but how can you NOT know this guy's wares?
Kameel Chamelly - owner of Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket Bakery, Martha’s Pizza. He is the nicest dude and I love his businesses. We wanted to live in that neighborhood so badly!
Of course, the only Michigan Prez got a nomination:
Gerald R Ford. Only thing he really did that hurt his legacy was pardon Nixon. Jimmy Carter spoke highly of him.
We ALL have run across this guy:
Who's that guy with the metal spikes on his clothes and motorcycle? He's usually around east town and mulligans. Guy rocks.
(I believe his name is) Punk Rock Ron.
Some nominees aren't even known by name:
The amazing crossing guard who used to be at Leonard and Alpine! She was pure joy!
And some just are known for their burgers:
'Beloved' became sarcastic after awhile:
Taco Bell on Michigan.
And then, there's that fine line between annoying and beloved:
The thicc booty man on Tiktok
Frankie LaPenna aka Jim Kardashian
What IS the deal with him? Lol
And the McKay Tower topper got nominated by its nickname:
The sky titty
And then there was this comment that took the idea for reals and threw down some solid options:
If you’re going with GR natives/people who grew up here then I’d say filmmaker Paul Schrader, basketball player Devin Booker, or Central High graduate and universally beloved actress Gillian Anderson from the X-Files, although our claim to her is pretty tenuous and she allegedly hated it here lol. If you’re going with current residents then I honestly don’t know, maybe the tiktok guy with the fake butt.
This nomination is just wrong. Besides it's in Grandville!
In my case, she's dead, but she loves the fact you thought of her:
And last but not least, a good guy and former Mayor who has not been forgotten:
Beatles Michigan Memorabilia
10 Biggest Cities in Michigan as of 1960