Thousands lined the Grand Haven channel to welcome the Coast Guard on Monday.
By Krystle Wagner
The Parade of Ships sailed into Grand Haven a little after 1 p.m. as part of the 2013 Coast Guard Festival.
This year’s ships include the U.S. Coast Guard cutters Mackinaw and Mobile Bay, and a Canadian Coast Guard Hero Class patrol boat.
Don Rempinski, coordinator for the Parade of Ships, said the event normally draws between 4,000 and 5,000 spectators, and this year wasn’t an exception. He said they ran out of the 1,900 U.S. Coast Guard and 400 Canadian flags to pass out along the waterfront on Monday.
This year’s event provided Hudsonville resident Deb Potter with a first-time experience at the Coast Guard Festival. Potter said she and her husband were on the Grand Haven boardwalk at about 11 a.m. to secure prime seats.
Potter said she won’t get the chance to tour the ships because of her work schedule, but she had the chance to check out the cutter Mackinaw during a trip to Mackinaw City.
“It’s pretty impressive,” she said. “It’s just so huge.”
As the ships pulled into the harbor, 5-year-old Titus Kitchen enthusiastically waved his small flags to welcome them. The young Grand Haven resident said he looked forward to the ships and seeing them.
“It’s fun,” he said.
Throughout the week, the public has the chance to walk through the ships and talk to military personnel at Escanaba Park. Free ship tours are available from 6-8 p.m. today and Wednesday; and from 10 a.m. to noon, 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
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