The parade of ships has become a beloved tradition for many, and easily attracts a crowd of thousands.
This year, however, there could be fewer ships in that parade. The reason? The federal budget sequester. Travel is one of the budget items Coast Guard officials have been told to hold in check.
“We are still planning on participating in the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival,” said Lt. Dave Connor, a spokesman for the Coast Guard Great Lakes Region, who added that operational activities such as search and rescue and ice breaking are taking priority over community engagement activities. “We have been cutting down on a significant amount of travel.”
Connor said that while they’ve been scaling back on expenses, the Coast Guard does plan to make its presence felt in Grand Haven this summer. What remains unclear, he said, is just how much participation that will entail.
Meanwhile, officials from the festival committee say they are working to make this year’s event – scheduled for July 26 to Aug. 4 – fantastic regardless of the impacts of sequestration.
"We have no information on the effect at all for the festival,” Coast Guard committee chairman Andy Cawthon said. “Planning continues, as always, for the best festival ever."
Coast Guard Festival Executive Director Mike Smith said he has “no idea what it may mean” and that he hasn’t “heard a word” regarding how the U.S. Coast Guard’s budget constraints could trickle down to the festival’s festivities.
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.