Coast Guard pulls off its 96th



By Cynthia Price

Coast Guard City U.S.A., Grand Haven, concluded its 96th official festival last weekend – or it might be its 83rd.

The confusion in wording occurs because there has been a celebration every year since 1924, when it started with a picnic for Coast Guard families. But the first full festival was not held until 1937.

Little did the creators know, with either event, that it would become the huge annual funfest that it has, stretching for over a week and drawing hundreds of thousands of people.

Everything seems to run as smoothly as clockwork, with a nice mix of government-related commemorations, such as the parade of ships entering the harbor and the ship tours, to off-the-cuff events like cardboard boat races and waterball competititions.

Unfortunately, the pomp and circumstance attached to the arrival of the ships on July 29 had to be canceled because of high wave action. The ships came in, but were prevented from doing a “parade” because they could not wait for each other in the choppy water.

There was a tribute band theme in the entertainment. In addition to Abba (right), performers “channeled” Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Neil Diamond, and the Rolling Stones. There was also an American-Idol-type competition, limited to participants aged 15 to 38 this year.