Thursday, August 4, 2016

Coast Guard Festival

Took a drive up to Grand Haven recently to take a walk through the Coast Guard Festival.
Grand Haven has this festival each year, celebrating the Coast Guard's service. It started almost 100 years ago as a simple picnic for the local guard post, and has grown to the point that they get hundreds of thousands of people across the week-long event.
The festival has the usual things that you see at any town's yearly festival: lots of food booths, amusement park rides, various artists, etc. But the main focus is on the Coast Guard ships that come in, which people can tour, and the various events that honor the service members.
I didn't go out to any of the big events, largely because I don't particularly enjoy the difficulty of getting there through the crowds. It's a hour drive from home, plus you have to figure out parking once you get there. Early on a weekday afternoon things were less crowded, though there were still plenty of people roaming around.
The ships were fun to see. Three from the US Coast Guard, and one visiting from the Canadian Coast Guard. One was an icebreaker, which makes sense here in the north. I felt a little bad for the guys having to stand in full uniform out in the sun on the ship's decks, but they had plenty of water and I saw one changing of the guard.
Not far from the ships is an eternal flame memorial to service members from all branches of the armed forces, including the Coast Guard. There's also a memorial service held at the festival each year, usually attended by some of the highest-ranking Coast Guard officers. It's good to see remembrance for all service members, and particularly the Coast Guard, which is often overshadowed by the other branches.
I enjoyed my brief visit to the festival this year. Hopefully Grand Haven can continue the tradition for many years to come.

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