Children of all ages — many in their bathing suits — cooled off as they ran under the fire truck’s makeshift waterfall, smiling from ear to ear and splish-splashing in water puddles.
“I came down with my day care kids to get the full experience of Coast Guard Kids Day,” said Grand Haven Township resident Andrea Payne. “It’s great for the kids — there are plenty of fun things to do. They’re really enjoying it.”
Payne and her husband, Joe; and 14-year-old daughter, Kaelie, stayed mostly dry as they watched Payne’s six day care kids — including her other daughter, Chaille, 4 — splash under the pouring water from the GHDPS fire truck.
“This is the most fun they’ve had,” Payne said as the kids showed off their soaking wet outfits.
Children also got wet on the Coast Guard’s simulated damage control boat, where participants “patched up” leaking water from about 10 holes inside the boat.
“It’s a simulation of a boat sinking, so they have to fill up all the holes,” said Coast Guard Marine Science Technician 1st Class Jason Hall. “When a boat or vessel takes on water, we have to know how to stop the leaks. It trains people how to plug the holes and stop the leaks.”
The simulation boat is kept at the Coast Guard Sector Field Office Grand Haven, Hall said.
“They love it,” he said of the kids standing in line to take part in the activity. “We have repeat customers.”
Throughout the event, children bounced and flipped in bounce houses, slid down an inflatable slide, played carnival games, had faces painted, and built wooden structures.
Wendy Erdman of Grand Haven brought her four children and three of their friends to Mulligan’s Hollow to enjoy the Kids Day activities.
“They always love to get wet from the fire truck at the end,” she said.
Eight-year-old Alec Turbett of Spring Lake hammered away at his wood-making project: a fireboat.
“It looked cool,” he said. “It’s my first time trying it.”
Nearby, his older sister, Emily Turbett, decided to make a shelf.
“I’m making a shelf because it looks like I can put stuff on it,” the 11-year-old said.
The Kids Day prince and princess — 7-year-old Owen McDermott of Grand Haven and 6-year-old Kaitlynn Shumaker of Grand Haven, respectively — were also announced Tuesday. The pair each were awarded a crown/tiara, T-shirt and a bike. They will be riding in the festival’s Grand Parade on Saturday.
Kids Day coordinator Brent Ewing said he wasn’t worried about the day being washed out by rain.
“It’s been great the last five years,” he said of the weather on Kids Day. “They’ve forecasted rain the last couple of years, and it’s always held off.”
Before it was over, Ewing predicted that Tuesday’s Kids Day would drew a crowd of about 6,000 to 8,000.
“It’s a great day to get in tune and meet the Coast Guard,” he said. “We want to thank all the sponsors and volunteers, and all of the Coast Guard personnel for all they do to keep our borders safe.”
To see more photos from Kids Day, click here.