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Carnival Blast

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By Becky Vargo

bvargo@grandhaventribune.com

Bumpin’ to the ’50s and ’60s will be part of the new jukebox-themed ride making an appearance at this year’s Coast Guard Festival.

“There’s new scenery outside and new LED lighting,” according to Jeff Brady, owner of Play World Amusements of Alma, which has provided all the rides and carnival games for the festival these past few years.

Brady said they’ll have 17-18 rides — including last year’s new one, Remix.

Favorite rides for the younger children include the Merry-Go-Round, cars that go around tracks and the big slide. Rides that remain popular for the older kids are the Himalaya and the Zipper.

“Everyone likes the giant Ferris Wheel, especially on fireworks night,” Brady said.

The wheel sits in the Harborfront Place parking lot, close to the water, and has a good view of the fireworks and the Musical Fountain.

More than a dozen carnival games will line Washington Avenue between First and Third streets. The little kids like Fishy Fishy, while the teens gravitate to the long-range basketball and machine gun games, Brady said.

The carnival opens at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and 2 p.m. the rest of the week. It normally stays open until 11 p.m., but that’s totally dependent on the weather. It will be open until 1 a.m., again weather-dependent, on the final night of the carnival.

Tickets are $1 each or $35 for a 40-pack. Admission is three or four tickets for each ride.

Armbands are also available for $20, although downtown merchants will have coupons for a $3 discount. Armbands can be used any day except Saturday.

For those interested in how it all goes together, rides will be set up Monday night and all day Tuesday. Brady said some of the rides take 6-8 hours to construct with a crew of 4-6 people.

Coast Guard Festival Director Mike Smith said the carnival is very important in that it generates almost a third of the festival’s operating costs.

“This is one of the very few cities in the country where the carnival is on the main street,” Smith said. “That’s what makes it so successful. You can shop and eat, access the boardwalk, beach and Mulligan’s Hollow.”

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