While the festival provides fun for families and visitors, its primary function is to honor the men and women in the U.S. Coast Guard.
The National Memorial Service is one of the ways the festival pays special tribute to Coast Guard personnel who have lost their lives while serving their country. This year’s service will honor all men and women who have died this past year because there haven’t been work-related fatalities in the past year, said Annie Lengkeek, director of marketing for Coast Guard Festival.
This year’s service takes place 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at Escanaba Park.
“It’s the heart of the festival,” Lengkeek said.
Throughout the nearly hour-long somber ceremony, dignitaries will give speeches, the bagpipes and Coast Guard band will play musical selections, and wreaths are laid down in memory of those who have passed away.
Ship tours are closed during the service, but they reopen upon its conclusion.
From designated seats for special guests to the park’s hillside and walkway, Lengkeek estimates that a couple thousand people attend the service.
As Lengkeek listens to the speakers, she looks around at the participants and wonders what their connection is to the Coast Guard. Lengkeek said she’s amazed that people come from Chicago, Detroit, and other states and cities to join the festival and honoring the Coast Guard.
“It’s awesome to have that many people come together for that event,” she said.