MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - After more than 100 years, the Sappi Paper Mill along the banks of Muskegon Lake is no more. The plant was brought to the ground in seconds after one large "boom" Sunday morning.
"I'm just here to witness something I'll probably never see again in my life," said Ed Prelgauskas. Prelgauskas has lived in Muskegon for years near the Sappi Mill. He brought a lawn chair with him to watch the implosion. "It's a once in a -- probably once in a lifetime event."
Prelgauskas was one of dozens of people who watched the implosion, from a safe distance away.
The building was supposed to come down between nine and ten in the morning, but was delayed for about an hour.
Despite the cold, the large crowd of people stuck it out, creating a carnival like atmosphere during the wait.
"We brought all our kids here they wanted to see it," said Steve Cooper. Cooper brought his twin 7-year-old daughters to watch a piece of the history of Muskegon. "I think it's going to be a learning experience for them and something they'll probably remember the rest of their lives."
No one who 24 Hour News 8 spoke to was worried about anything going wrong in the implosion.
The delay seemed to be the only hiccup in the demolition. After the earth shaking explosion, greeted by cheers from spectators, the building fell to the north as planned. That was more towards Lake Muskegon and away from a neighborhood to the south. A large cloud of dust and debris dissipated within minutes, as did the crowd.
The Muskegon City Commission approved the mill's demolition in September of this year. It closed for business in 2009, laying off nearly 200 employees.
According to the Muskegon Museum, the mill was initially started by German immigrant Eugene Meurer in 1900. It was first named the Central Paper Company.
Despite Sunday morning's cheering, people who showed up to watch the implosion told 24 Hour News 8 there was a bittersweet feeling to the morning.
"It's sad that we're seeing a legend that affected a lot of lives over the years," said Prelgauskas. "But it's time for it to go. It's time to open up new avenues."
"It used to employ a lot of people," said Cooper. "I mean, hopefully they develop [the property] with something because it's a good piece of property, and hopefully the city can get their act together and and actually develop it."
Both men expressed and interest in the area becoming a recreation area, or condos.
24 Hour News 8 was told on the scene there were initial reports of minor window damage to nearby homes as a result of the blast.