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Grand Parade a 126-entry salute to Coast Guard

Julie Angell • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:55 PM

On the sunny Saturday morning, crowds were estimated to reach anywhere from 200,000 to 250,000 according to Coast Guard Festival executive director Mike Smith. A total of 126 parade entries included 13 bands, about seven queens, fire trucks from every community and 36 dignitary entries.

The Meijer Grand Parade brings in participants from all over the state, including a shimmering float from the Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival. Dressed in Bavarian princess dresses ordered straight from Germany, Olivia Laux and Kirsten Bierlein enjoyed their first time in the parade.

“I’ve never been to Grand Haven before but I love it,” Bierlein said.

“I just love the town. I think it’s cute,” Laux said.

Families and friends staked out their territory along the parade route and then enjoyed the fun passing by. Thousands gathered together to support the U.S. Coast Guard and to keep their own traditions alive while grabbing a bite to eat between parade floats.

One of the canopy tents lining the street was keeping family members cool along with the drinks in their hands.

It’s Coast Guard Festival Parade tradition for Karen Idema, Alison Schindlbeck and Jennifer Idema to prepare fresh margaritas on their lawn on Seventh St. right at the end of the parade route. This was the third year the ladies carried on the tradition.

Sounds filled the warm summer air from the U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band, loud and proud Grand Haven High School cheerleaders, a clown band, and uplifting music booming from floats.

Making their presence known with the firing of their cannon were the pirates riding the elaborate Michigan Pirate Festival float. The loud boom reminded the crowds of the upcoming festival on Harbor Island this week.

After the Meijer Grand Parade concluded, the last day of Coast Guard Festival carried on its event throughout the night. Crowds quickly left their claimed parade spots and mapped out their viewing areas for the Fireworks Extravaganza.

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