The 2011 Coast Guard Festival concluded Saturday night despite a rainy morning at the waterfront with “Motor City Glee” and the Fireworks Extravaganza, which Smith said received “rave, rave reviews.”
Mike and Carol Bandy of Garden City were spending the weekend at Michigan’s Adventure with their daughters — Madison, 12, and Alexis, 9 — when they decided to visit Grand Haven for the first time on Saturday. They watched the fireworks show in front of the boats at Municipal Marina.
“A friend of mine grew up in the area and he said, ‘Oh, you got to go to the Coast Guard Festival and see the fireworks,” Mike said. “And it’s great. It’s awesome.”
Alexis took home a souvenir: a 2-inch-long chunk of ash from the fireworks that fell next to her.
Post-fireworks movement of people and traffic went as well as could be expected, considering the hundreds of thousands of people gathered in a town this size, said Capt. Rick Yonker, acting director of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.
“We had most of the people out of town by 12:30 a.m.,” he said. “That is much quicker than in past years.”
Yonker said they believe they have a good system now, but will continue to review and tweak as needed.
According to Smith, this year’s Coast Guard Festival marked a number of first and unique events for the festival, including more official guests, the addition of Senior Day and the change of command at the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw.
“It was a glorious week,” Smith said.
The new “Coast Guard City U.S.A.” sign on Dewey Hill also received positive comments from members of the community, Smith said. He said the letters will be coming down today.
“We were thrilled with the new additions,” Smith said.
With the conclusion of the festival comes the chance to review the event and begin planning for the 2012 festival.
Smith said he is currently making notes and getting the books balanced to get a bottom line for the event. Once that is complete, he said he will begin having discussions with talent agencies about booking acts for next year’s festival.
“It’s a never-ending cycle,” Smith said.
Tribune multimedia editor Mark Brooky and news editor Becky Vargo contributed to this report.