If one gets the opportunity to visit Frederik Meijer Gardens between now and the arrival of the New Year, don’t squander this wonderful holiday gift! There are plentiful examples of holiday cheer and unique exhibitions that request viewing before some of them disappear forever! In addition to the enchanting Railway Garden, where model trains traverse a landscape filled with models of Grand Rapids landmarks as well as those of its sister cities, they are offering a chance to tour Holiday Traditions from around the world.
Talking to the volunteers manning the information desk yielded treasures of all sorts. Dave Pelak spoke enthusiastically of the holiday trees representing all different and diverse backgrounds in Meijer Gardens’ Holiday Exhibition. “You need to pay attention to the detail in all the ornaments and just the overall presentation on each of them.” He was particular about the German and Irish trees especially, saying that if it were up to him, “no one could leave until they find the pickle”, referring to the German tradition of hiding a pickle ornament in the trees of the Dutch.
Pelak went on to explain the great amount of care each and every piece in the exhibition is given, with ornaments and crafted decorations being transported in basically padded safes. The effort shows through as one walks through the beauteous showcase, as the meticulous setups and utterly charming atmosphere provided are near-guaranteed to lift up all Christmas and assorted holiday spirits.
To further drive home the magnetic power of the worldly pageant, the author encountered a delightfully curious happening. As I perused the various traditional settings, I heard multiple languages around and within the Holiday Showcase of trees. Not just the typical English and Spanish filled my ears, but also the words of Russian family and methinks a Korean one as well who passed through enjoying the remarkable exhibition. These exhibits are truly examples that bring out the melting pot in our culture.
Also of note was the current exhibit within the Sculpture Gallery, just inside the entrance before one enters the Holiday Exhibition. Volunteer Cathy Ezinga told of how much of the current exhibition, rare and fragile Japanese art, is so delicate that once January 4th hits, the end of the exhibition, the pieces are being shipped off to Japan to be put in a sort of final resting place, out of public viewing, for the rest of time! That’s right, for just as the infomercials always claim, these pieces are only here for a very limited time and then they’re gone forever. Come to Frederik Meijer Gardens and behold the culture before it is too late.