Four of the five members of council objected to having the sign — which made its debut two summers ago — go up for this year's festival, July 26 to Aug. 4. They were primarily concerned about damage to the Dewey Hill dune.
“The City Council made their decision, and that is their job,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said. “They make decisions on how city property is used.”
Organizers of the Coast Guard Festival were caught off-guard by the decision.
“We were a little surprised by the vote," said Andy Cawthon, chairman of the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival Committee. "And apparently the Coast Guard was surprised by it, as well.”
Cawthon said the festival committee is exploring its options for the sign's placement.
“The options are — putting it on private property or, if the city will consider, some way of getting the letters on the hill while respecting the erosion issue,” he said.
Cawthon noted that festival organizers have fielded some calls and e-mails in support of the sign’s return.
“We’ll see what we can do, while respecting the vote of the City Council,” he said. “You may see me swimming in the channel with the letter 'A,' if I have to.”
The outpouring of support has also spread to social media. People have posted their displeasure with council's decision on the city’s Facebook page.
Diana Sovis was one of the many who posted their support for the sign.
“I love Grand Haven and have enjoyed the celebration for 52 years,” she wrote. “I am really disappointed in the four men on the council for voting off the 'Coast Guard City' sign. It feels like a slap in the face to the Coast Guard.”
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.