“We try to showcase organizations that either involve kids or serve kids,” said Andy Cawthon, co-chairperson of the parade. “And so, given the theme of honoring the men and women of the Coast Guard, it’s a chance for youth organizations and service organizations to showcase what they do.”
The parade — which Cawthon said is “by kids, for kids” — is a precursor to next Saturday’s Grand Parade.
“We had a theme this year the kids really got into,” co-chairperson Joyce Cawthon said, holding up two pirate finger puppets. “They got into pirates, so that was cool. Everybody was into pirates. And it was Coast Guard defending our shores against pirates, so (it was) still honoring the Coast Guard.”
Check out the photo gallery of the parade by clicking here.
Carrie Anderson of Cleveland, Ohio, said she was visiting family in the area when she heard about the parade.
“I enjoy sort of the theme that everybody was dressed as pirates,” she said. “I think that made it enjoyable for the kids.”
Anderson said she also liked the length of the parade. At just under an hour, the Kids Parade is less than half of the Grand Parade.
Sheri Flahive of Grand Haven said she usually attends the Grand Parade every year, but decided to try the Kids Parade this year.
“It was great,” she said. “(I was) very surprised at how cool it was. … (It was) just smaller, low-key, local type of thing.”
Jason Epplett participated in the parade with the Spring Lake Community Fitness and Aquatic Center for the first time this year.
“We just wanted to be part of the Coast Guard festivities and celebrate Coast Guard,” he said. “… It was something that we thought would be fun and to connect with the community.”
Cawthon said three judges assess the floats on three criteria: honoring the Coast Guard, emulating the theme of the parade and creativity. He said the trophies went to the following groups: Grand Haven Christian Schools, Grand Haven Church of Nazarene and the Mac Kite store
Anderson said everyone in the parade is a winner, and each participant receives a ribbon.
“It gives them a sense of pride that they’re doing something to honor and respect and show their support for the Coast Guard,” she said.