Smith, the festival’s executive director, said it’s difficult to measure actual numbers, and the visual appearance was a mixed bag for counting event attendance.
Nonetheless, Smith said the week’s weather started off great and the festival moved onto well-executed and well-attended events. He said guests felt honored and loved by the festival, as well as residents and visitors who attended the events.
“Coast Guard City USA is a one-of-a-kind title,” Smith said. “Grand Haven has embraced that like no other city in the world.”
Senior Day experienced an additional 100 participants this year, which Smith attributed to the event becoming more established and working closely with Four Pointes Center for Successful Aging. Kids Day had about 5,000 children participate in the bounce houses, games and petting zoo.
Smith said the Street Dance looked less attended than years past, but he attributed it to other events happening at the same time.
Crowds were anticipated to reach between 200,000 and 250,000 for last Saturday’s big parade. Smith said it looked like more people were packed this year along the routes for the earlier Kids Parade as well as the Grand Parade.
Smith noted that it’s the festival volunteers who make it all happen. There are 21 volunteer board members and a total of 800 volunteers, he said.
Although festival organizers are waiting for final carnival figures, Smith said the attractions brought in more money than ever before. It had a new vendor this year and Smith said some aspects will be addressed for next year. It didn’t have the same look or feel as previous years, the festival director said.
Ship tour attendance was also down from previous years. More than 18,700 people toured the U.S. Coast Guard cutters Hollyhock, Bristol Bay and Mobile Bay during the week they were docked in Grand Haven. Festival officials are waiting on tour numbers for the national weather agency’s Laurentian.
Part of the tour decline can be attributed to security measures when Gov. Rick Snyder arrived for the National Memorial Service at Escanaba Park, Smith said.
Throughout the week, crews spent hundreds of hours keeping the city clean and ensuring safety.
“It’s all hands on deck,” Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said.
Read the complete story in Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.