“Coast Guard week is a regular summer weekend on steroids,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said. “Nobody gets time off. Everyone is on the clock.”
McGinnis said everyone from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Public Works is on hand to deal with crowd control and any other issues that arise during the week-long festival that attracts an estimated million people to town.
He said work begins on the festival right after the previous one ends. Meetings are held to determine where improvements can be made and what worked and didn’t work during the festival.
“Come early spring, we have another meeting to get ready for the next year,” McGinnis said. “It’s an ongoing annual cycle that we are quite used to.”
The city isn’t the only entity making sure this year’s event goes off without a hitch. The festival organizers themselves are hard at work making sure the event goes smoothly.
“We’re busy, and largely because people have put us on their radar," Coast Guard Festival spokeswoman Madonna Kramer said.
Kramer said that with the festival drawing closer and advertising and media campaigns raising awareness, people are calling for ticket and schedule information.
“It’s the final preparation and getting all of the logistics done,” Kramer said. “You have to make sure every ‘I’ is dotted and ‘T’ is crossed.”
Over at the U.S. Coast Guard offices on Harbor Drive, officials put the finishing touches on their prep work Friday.
“We have been working on this for the last couple of months,” U.S. Coast Guard Sector Field Office Grand Haven Executive Officer Lt. Kevin McDonald said. “Basically, we are the ones who are organizing the Coast Guard aspect of it.”
McDonald noted that this included arranging the Parade of Ships, the memorial service, and the other official Coast Guard aspects of the festival.
“The commanding officer and I will be at every event that occurs,” McDonald said. “We’re there to welcome the public to the events and whatever is taking place.”
McDonald said this will be his second festival, but the first in which he will have more of a hands-on role since he arrived just two weeks before last year’s event. He said they’re ready for anything.
“I am sure every year there is something, but the Coast Guard Festival has been doing it for so long that they know what they are doing,” he said.
All hands on