The first Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids LaughFest began with a world record-breaking chicken toss, and ended with a smile. Over 55,000 people from 25 states and Canada attended the 10-day festival of laughter in Grand Rapids. The buzz began last fall when the now familiar yellow smiles were placed in locations all over Grand Rapids with no explanation. A couple of months later, the announcement was made that the first Grand Rapids LaughFest was coming in March, to raise money and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Gilda’s Club, a free cancer and grief support community for people and families affected by cancer. It is one of 52 clubs throughout the United States named in honor of the late Saturday Night Live comedienne, Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989.
In my opinion, March is the Midwest’s cruelest month. One day we’re sitting around in sunglasses and shorts, and the next day we have to use a hairdryer to open the car doors. There’s usually not enough snow to play in, but the lakes are still frozen. It’s enough to make a girl reach for the chips and dip. Again.