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Crowding in Grand Haven causes concern, closure of parking lot at state park

Pronto Pup also saw big lines on reopening weekend
Posted at 9:02 PM, May 03, 2020

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — With the warm weather a lot of people were getting out to enjoy it, but in Grand Haven there ended up being some closures because of the crowds.

Photos taken by DNR Rangers while on patrol at Grand Haven State Park Saturday shows large groups of people congregating in a packed parking lot.

Officials have now closed off parking in an attempt at limiting crowds.

If the parking lot wasn't full and people were scattered out walking around and things like that. We wouldn't have done that but because they clustered in the parking lot, and all of that. That's the problem.” DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson said

“This is a temporary measure just to get people to understand this is an important piece of people taking personal responsibility or being outdoors,” Olson added.

According to those around this area there’s been a scarcity of social distancing, especially this weekend.

“It was crazy busy yesterday around town yesterday. Just the traffic alone and the harbor here and things like that,” Grand Haven Resident Michael Poort said.

“I do think [closing the parking lot] was a good idea for the time being, I have noticed when we walked through a week ago and there was, nobody was hoping social distancing, large crowds of people were together, cars were back to back and stuff like that,” Poort added.

Down the street many people were waiting in long lines at Pronto Pup.

The West Michigan staple opened up Friday, after voluntarily closing a few weeks ago.

Even with marking drawn on the ground to promote social distancing, those lines that stretched down the sidewalk as they typically do, were full of people, many not wearing masks.

We spoke with Pronto Pup Owner Carl Nelson, who says as long as people in line are being respectful they are fine with being open.

They posted on Facebook Sunday night saying in part...

“The sidewalk is city property and no one at pronto pup can or will force anyone to remain 6 feet apart or wear a mask, but we are concerned with your safety above all else and are asking anyone who visits to follow these recommendations.”

Lines were shorter on Sunday, when many took advantage of the sunshine with a day at the beach.

“The only thing you can do is be outside. So why not enjoy God‘s beauty," Grand Haven Resident Cynthia Dekuiper said.

The lot will remain closed until further notice, though the DNR says people are still free to enjoy the beach as long as they social distance, otherwise they could get ticketed.

Meanwhile, the park's campsite is expected to reopen June 22nd.