Semper Paratus! The 86th Annual Coast Guard Festival open to bands, fireworks, carnival, boats, parades, food and fun in Grand Haven, along Western Michigan’s glorious shores and dunes of Lake Michigan. July 30-August 7, 2010.
A Coast Guard memorial Quilt show opens Friday June 30 with the legendary Battle of the Bands that evening. Bright and early Saturday morning will see the annual Tri-Cities Family YMCA 10K run-walk, 5K run-walk, 1 mile family run-walk and Tot-Trot, followed closely by Tri-Cities Kid’s Parade downtown at 10:30 am. In the afternoon families can enjoy Playing Out Loud-a Kids Event, VFW Chicken and Rib dinner and ABBA Mania at 8pm. Sunday features bicycle tours of the area, a rotary pancake breakfast, Cruise-In Car Show and WOW (Worship on the Waterfront, formerly Vacationland Hymnsing) at the lovely Grand Haven outdoor stadium. And don’t forget the nightly viewing of the World’s Largest Musical Fountain at dusk.
Monday, August 2, sees four gorgeous Coast Guard cutters steaming into Grand Haven, Michigan’s channel. This year features the Neah Bay, Hollyhock, Buckthorn and the Canadian Samuel Risley on Monday. All ships give daily free tours all through the week. Playing at the downtown waterfront stadium are the boisterous, irreverent Scottville Clown Band. Tuesday, August 3 start the day with Coastie Golf Tournament and later, Kid’s Day in Mulligan’s Hollow at the YMCA. Grand Haven’s famous downtown carnival opens at 6 pm. At 7pm head to the waterfront for the Grand Haven Skiers water show and then make your way back up town for an old fashioned Street dance. A note on the carnival: it’s the cleanest one in existence. Stop by any downtown merchant for a $3 off coupon off $17 wristbands.
On Thursday and Friday, carnival and ship tours continue, along with softball tournaments and nightly waterfront entertainment featuring Let’s Hang On and the USO Liberty Bells Coast Guard Tribute. There are special activities for active and retired Coasties (Coast Guard personnel) as well. Friday kicks off the Central Park Art Fair also. Don’t’ party too late on Friday, though because the big day is Saturday, August 7. The Meijer Grand Parade begins at 11:45 am, music and beer tents all over town and the Grand Finale Three Men and a Tenor and Spartan Discords at the waterfront stadium. At dusk, get set for the biggest, loudest, brightest fireworks display you’ve ever seen, fired from historic Dewey Hill and the musical fountain.
The Coast Guard Festival all happens in little Grand Haven Michigan on US 31, just east of Grand Rapids, north of Holland and south of Muskegon. All events are within walking distance of each other and there is plenty of free downtown and local parking. Many events are free and most are inexpensive. The Sachteleben family lives about a mile from the action and will be hoofing it. You may park in front of our house, but get there fast. It fills quickly. Need a great, inexpensive family vacation? Drive, fly or walk, but do get here for this never-to-be forgotten, impossible to replicate experience. For more information, visit me at www.greatgrandhaven.blogspot.com.