Start the Boating Season Early! 

by David Irvine, Director, WWC

While many are working on their boats or dreaming of soaking up/launching their classic boat, every February, many Water Wonderland Chapter members in Michigan are jumping into action! 

Our chapter has had a presence at the Grand Rapids Boat Show in southwest Michigan for well over 25 years, displaying members’ boats in a prominent glass hallway, overlooking the Grand River.

This all started when Jeff Rogers, WWC President from 1994 to 1998, noticed that larger chapters, such as the Michigan chapter, BSLOL chapter, and New York chapters, were displaying members’ boats at new boat shows held in large convention centers during the winter months. Jeff contacted the organizer of the Grand Rapids Boat Show, held in the 162,000-square-foot Devos Place Convention Center in late 1996. The organizers loved the idea, but it was too late for the 1997 show.

Looking across and down from the second floor at the eight classic wooden boats that filled the Galleria of the Van Andel Museum Center in February 1997.

However, a way to “test the waters” was found. The Grand Rapids Public Museum, across the banks of the Grand River, was the perfect venue to display boats in the magnificent entranceway, complete with a HUGE Whale Skeleton hanging over the area. The 10-day public display concluded with a private dinner held on an evening after the museum closed. The following year, in 1998, the WWC made their first appearance at the official Grand Rapids Boat Show which has since become an annual WWC tradition and well-received for over 25 years! This would not be possible without the dedication, talent, and resources of our members – who spend many hours preparing these timeless classics for the public to see.

This year, early in the morning of Sunday, February 11, 2024 (Super Bowl Sunday), thanks to the efforts of David Willis, his family, and many WWC members/friends, 14 committed boats, and one non-floating Chris Craft (the backdrop of our ship store), lined up on Michigan Street, waiting for their cue to be the first in (and the last out) to get into the DeVos Place convention center.


As you can see, there is a LOT that goes into sharing our wonderful hobby with the public!  

Throughout the show, the WWC signed up several new ACBS members, and we all had an opportunity to reconnect with members past and present, with many a tall tale being shared!

After the event, a video was posted on YouTube by Mike Green, great-grandson of the founder of the Chris Craft Corporation, Chris Smith, and can be seen here:


  1. Congrats on a wonderful display and promoting the classic boat passion. Having been involved with the Michigan chapter display at the Detroit boat show for several years, I know the effort involved, and our display was not as large as yours. Bravo!

  2. What a great article David! Thank you for sharing the history behind this event. Few people know all the wonderful things that Jeff Rogers and others have done and continue to do for our organization.

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