Ship tours began Monday night. The ships saw 4,029 visitors in the first two days, according to Coast Guard Auxiliary member Joe Sedlock.
Ships docked at Escanaba Park for the week are the Coast Guard cutters Hollyhock, Bristol Bay and Biscayne Bay, and the Great Lakes research vessel Laurentian.
Sedlock stood atop the Hollyhock, taking in the cooler weather and busy atmosphere. He said his favorite part of giving tours for eight years has been meeting families and giving a member of the crew a break to go ashore.
On average, the ship tours bring in 25,000 to 30,000 people for the week, Sedlock said. He said the interest continues to grow, and it showed with each person adding to the large crowd waiting to board each ship.
Families overlooked the channel atop the Hollyhock, taking photos and preserving memories of their ship tour.
Standing at the edge of the ship showing his children each feature of the Hollyhock was Joe McGregor from Holland. He was a Coast Guardsman from 1987-97 and brought his family along to the tours for the first time at the festival.
“They see it on television, but they haven’t gotten to see it, feel it, touch it,” McGregor said.
Ryan Gallagher, 17; Dylan Baines, 16; and Tyler Baines, 14, say they tour the ships every year. Two of the boys say they’re considering getting more involved than that — Ryan and Dylan said that going on the ship tours has reinforced their desire to join the Coast Guard when they’re of age.
Gallagher said his favorite part of the ship tours was aboard the Laurentian, where he got to drive a remotely operated vehicle that moved a buoy around in the water.
Ship tours are free and continue through Saturday.
See more than 1,000 photos from this year's festival at grandhaventribune.com/photos.