World Cup watch party at Ah-Nab-Awen Park

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) — World Cup fever came to downtown Grand Rapids with an outdoor watch party Tuesday afternoon, as the USA played Belgium.

A few thousand of Grand Rapids’ biggest soccer fans formed a sea of red, white, and blue at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, flooding the banks of the Grand River and cheering Team USA on to the end.

“We’ve got World Cup on the Grand; I love it!” said Mayor George Heartwell.

Heartwell had to capture the moment. A few thousand members of his city were cheering, clapping, and anxiously hoping for a goal, together.

“United, instead of cheering for different teams, everyone is together on this one.”

The massive display screen allowed everyone to see the action, even from Julien Nadeau’s hammock.

“I love it. I love these watch parties outside is the way to go it’s beautiful,” Nadeau said.

“Thrilled to be able to watch the game, don’t have cable at home,” said Jen Vos.

Many are impressed with how quickly the event was pulled together.

“It’s cool Grand Rapids does events like these. We’ve been to down here, we went to school at Grand Valley and just graduated and just signed another lease, so we’re excited to be here. We’re from Detroit, and things like this don’t happen there.”

“It’s great! I think it’s awesome; it’s only something the City of Grand Rapids could do,” said Justin Krenselewski.

The fans’ true test of faith came when Belgium scored in extra time, and then scored again. Some started to leave, but came rushing back when the USA quickly answered. Their hopes were dashed as time expired, but their experience was well worth the time.

“It gives you a real sense of pride to come downtown and hang out with a bunch of other Grand Rapidians,” said Vos.

WZZM 13 co-sponsored the event, along with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., and LiveSpace.

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