How many of these have you checked off your bucket list? Truth be told, they probably are so weird, they shouldn't be on your bucket list.

If you ever find yourself with WAY too much free time -- head out to the far reaches and crannies of the Grand Rapids metro and find these weird anomalies. Why? Just because, they're weird.

7. The Glowing Gravestone In Byron Center

As Count Floyd used to say on SCTV, 'Now that's SCARY!' But it really isn't now that glowing gravestones are a common thing. Hell, the graveyard at Fuller and Knapp has more glowing things in it (they are actually a commercial product that you can buy here) than any other cemetery in the area.

But, once upon a time, using glowing stones in a gravestone's composition freaked people out. A case in point, Winegar Cemetery on Homewich Avenue, where scores of people are freaked out by the glowing stones in a gravestone. So much so, there's a whole page dedicated to the 'ghosts' seen there. Right.

Southwest of town. From Byron Center drive west on 92nd St. to Homerich Ave. Turn south and drive a half-mile to Winegar Cemetery on the left. To see the glowing gravestone you will need to go past the cemetery gate, down the path, and up the hill.

6. Tiny President Ford in East Grand Rapids

When artist J. Brett Grill was commissioned to do a full life size statue of the late President Gerald R. Ford, he did an 18 inch model first. The City of East Grand Rapids put the little guy on a pedestal, and there it stands at 746 Lakeside Drive in East GR.

It's just so cute! You almost want to hug him!

Look close, can you see him? Hardly, because he's TINY!

Google Earth

5. The Belding Shoe Tree

Once upon a time in this fair land, there were only a few trees that people threw shoes on in some sort of bizarro world art project, but now that every town (almost) has one, so old, cursed shoe trees like the one in Belding seem almost quaint.

So even though many local residents claim shoes have been on that tree for 'over 40 years', local resident Cyndi Fitzsimmons admonished Roadside America by writing:

"This one is so bogus - that tree has contained shoes for 'maybe' 5 to 6 years and for you to claim an urban/rural legend about it is ridiculous and an outright lie. I lived in the area most of my life, driving by that tree (which was quite small as I grew up) every single Saturday and quite a few times during the week, and the only thing that hung from it was leaves."

If you must go -- the tree is located south of Belding on Zahm Road at Krupp.

Belding Shoe Tree/Facebook

4. The Monument To Fluoride

It's abstract! It's controversial! (Just ask anyone about the fluoride conspiracy theory!) It's a monument to fluoride! that wonderful chemical that keeps our teeth here in Grand Rapids from looking British!

"This symbolizes strengthening the water and strengthening the teeth," said Amy DeYoung, president of the West Michigan District Dental Society.

Sure it does.

It doesn't matter whether you think fluoride was a good thing to put in our water or not (Grand Rapids was the first to do so), we all have to agree that this may not be the best way to honor that. A giant tooth would be better. Or visit the giant brick water tanks at the Clearwater Place on Monroe where the fluoride was actually added to the water.

At any rate, the abstract statue sits next to the Marriott hotel at the end of Louis Street.

Google Earth


3. The Terrain Map Of The United States in Jenison

In Hager Park off of 28th Street in Jenison is a earthen map of the United States, complete with most of the main waterways displayed, excluding the Grand River, Michigan's longest. What!? You're mere miles away from it, and you can't put it on the map. What happened? Run out of money?

Anyway, this is a fun way for the kids to pretend they've been different places in the USA without actually having to go there.

'Go ahead, Junior, head to the Black Hills of South Dakota. I'll be over here on this bench reading.'

The terrain map is pretty cool, and does indeed feature Michigan as having two peninsulas, and four of the Great Lakes, which is more than we can say for some maps.

Google Earth

2. Big Steaming (?) Coffee Mug -- Kentwood

High atop the mighty one floor Sheldon Cleaners locations sits this coffee mug, which simply states, "Coffee To Go". A promise that is kept, I would imagine by the staff of the coffee shop next to the cleaners called, strangely, "Coffee To Go."

Instantly, baby boomers like myself are reminded of the episode of "Leave It To Beaver" where the Beaver got stuck in a similar mug (but made for soup!) on billboard in downtown Mayfield. Was it inspired by that famous incident? Who knows? If it was, that would be really weird.

Universal Studios

1. The Scrap Metal Marching Band of Allendale

Since 1998, a marching band made of recycled scrap metal has been locked in step just outside Lubbers Field on the campus of Grand Valley State University.

The artist is scrap recycler Stuart Padnos who created the piece to honor his wife, who graduated from GVSU.

When asked about his inspiration for the art, Padnos told the University that he has long maintained, "Scrap is beautiful, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

If you're more of a Big Ten than GLIAC kind of guy, Padnos also created a scrap metal marching band on the campus of the University of Michigan. "BAND! TAKE THE FIELD!"

Oh, wait, they can't move. Never mind.

GVSU Art Department
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