Unity Christian Music Festival crowd turns out for music’s ‘amazing message’ on last day

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — Despite having to work all week, Christine Morse made it her mission to attend the Unity Christian Music Festival each day.

On the fourth and most crowded day, Morse was thankful to be part of the experience.

“You just want to take that time and forget about the rest of the chaos in the world,” the Fruitport resident said Saturday, Aug. 9. “We’re all here for the same reason and there is always an amazing message in the music.”

Since Day Zero on Wednesday, Morse said she has been driving back and forth from her job in Norton Shores. Amid the hectic week, the 14-year-old festival has served as a music getaway for her and thousands of others.

The packed Heritage Landing listens as bands play at the last day of the Unity Christian Music Festival at Heritage Landing on Aug. 9, 2014. (Tommy Martino | Photographer)

The packed Heritage Landing listens as bands play at the last day of the Unity Christian Music Festival at Heritage Landing on Aug. 9, 2014. (Tommy Martino | Photographer)

“I think this is a great event, it just looks like every year it gets bigger and bigger,” Morse said. “It just makes you want to come together and show love for everybody.”

The crowd in itself on Saturday had multiplied since the festival’s opening day, expanding even further out to the borders of Heritage Landing. Decorative wristbands covered the wrists and forearms of fans that chanted and sang along to their favorite songs.

Some took naps in between performances, while others sought shelter under their umbrellas. The most dedicated of fans gathered around the stage and clapped their hands ceremoniously to the beat of the music.

The stage itself extended out into the crowd as several of the musicians took the opportunity to perform in the middle of their fans.

Children’s activities located across the bridge on the other side of the water at Heritage Landing were being put to good use. Some had the opportunity to shoot arrows from a bow, while others tested their slap shot at the Muskegon Lumberjacks’ station.

One of the main attractions was the two-sided rock wall that had participants of all ages willing to give it a try.

RELATED: Crowd of 60,000 expected as Unity Christian Music Festival gets underway

A photo booth and a blow-up obstacle course were featured at various stations.

Cameron Nicholas took full advantage of the photo booth by wearing one of the spotted dresses for the rest of the Saturday performances.

“I was with some friends and they dared me to wear it at the photo booth,” Nicholas said. “A lot of people have been staring at me, laughing, wanting hugs, autographs and pictures.”

As a first-time festival-goer, Nicholas didn’t know what to expect. However, by the end of the fourth day, the Fremont resident was able to go on stage and meet a few of the artists.

Festival Director Kevin Newton said there have been a lot of first-timers at Unity, as the festival has grown considerably over the years. After witnessing the festival’s crowd on Saturday, Newton said Unity had surpassed the 65,000 mark for spectators this year.

“This is probably our biggest Unity ever,” Newton said. “Saturday is always our busiest day, as it kind of grows from Wednesday through Saturday. We’ve been full in the park all day long.”

This year the festival added new high-definition video screens, which allowed spectators way in the back to see what was happening on the stage.

The festival, which was founded to bring people and their families together for Christian entertainment, has grown considerably over the years.

Morse has been coming to Muskegon for the music festival for the last 10 years.

“I’ve been bringing my kids since they were 3 or 4 years old and now they’re 14 and 12,” Morse said. “It’s sad to see it go and I’m always very exhausted toward the end, but it’s a good exhaustion.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Aug. 9, 2014)

Advertisements

Muskegon wellness activists to raise health awareness with free picnic in Hackley Park

Community nonprofits and businesses will gather at Hackley Park in downtown Muskegon on Thursday, Aug. 14 for the Health, Wellness and Recovery community picnic. (MLive file photo)

Community nonprofits and businesses will gather at Hackley Park in downtown Muskegon on Thursday, Aug. 14 for the Health, Wellness and Recovery community picnic. (MLive file photo)

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — Many Muskegon residents are unaware of the resources and services in regards to health that are available to them.

That’s why Muskegon Community Mental Health among other partners will be holding a Health, Wellness and Recovery community picnic on Thursday, Aug. 14, from noon to 3 p.m. at Hackley Park.

CMH Customer Service Specialist Lauren Meldrum said the main reason for the event is to provide a learning environment for residents as well as the opportunity to enjoy free food in good conditions.

“It’s about raising awareness about health, wellness and recovery,” Meldrum said. “There will be live music, yoga in the park, and over 80 resource booths that feature community resources and health screenings.”

Residents can be administered HIV tests and other screens, while children can come for the activities that will include face painting, balloon animals and other games.

This is the second year Hackley Park will be host to the health-raising event, as in the past there was a picnic that used to be garnered toward clients for CMH, before it branched out to the public.

“We do host the event, but we look at it as a partnership with the community since there are so many partners,” Meldrum said. “I think it’s really important to spread awareness. I think there are so many resources and services people might not be aware of.”

Last year an estimated 1,200 people came out to learn more about the community and all it has to offer. Among those supporting Muskegon Community Mental Health in this endeavor are Harbor Hospice, Mercy Health, several local gyms and non-profit agencies.

“We want to spread that message of whole health,” Meldrum said. “There are so many aspects to health other than physical health, such as mental, spiritual and dental.”

As part of the picnic and other giveaways, sandwiches will be provided by Fatty Lumpkins Sandwich Shack. Apples, pretzels and water will also be on hand.

Recovery speakers, who are people who have lived with mental illness or substance abuse and are in recovery, will be in attendance to share their stories in the hopes of reaching those who are struggling.

The band that is scheduled to play is Mind, Body & Soul, which is made up of staff members from CMH and their friends who come together specifically for this event.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Aug. 13, 2014)