WILTSE: In my book, kites trump Coast Guard Festival

My wife and I took a ride down to the beach Saturday morning to see the kites flying. It was early in the morning and the activities were just beginning.
May 23, 2013


Ordinarily, I don’t pay much attention to the various summer activities in the Tri-Cities area. I don’t like crowds because I shuffle along so slowly that I only get in the way. Also, I worry a lot about being run down by a 3-year-old.

But I do enjoy the kites. I understand that some of them are quite spectacular, both in their size and in the stunts that their fliers perform.

I often wonder why the City of Grand Haven doesn’t support the kite flying more vigorously. It seems to be a natural for this area.

It was only a few weeks ago that the Tribune published an article to the effect that the Grand Haven beach was voted one of the five best venues in the United States for kite flying. Voted by whom, I don’t know — probably by the kite-flying enthusiasts themselves.

Yet the events leading up to last weekend’s festival didn’t even make the front page. It was put onto Page 3. I should think that the powers that be would jump at the opportunity for free publicity to encourage more kite fliers to take an interest in the community. Not just for kite flying, but for related activities such as kite surfing. I should think that the city would seek as much publicity for such events as possible.

I always did think that the Coast Guard Festival was a bit hokey. If you were to select an individual at random in the United States and ask that person where Coast Guard City USA is, where do you think they would guess it is? Probably San Diego, New Orleans, New York or some such city where the Coast Guard is really important — but never little old Grand Haven, Mich.

I think that even the Coast Guard thinks it a little passé, especially the brass. Certainly they are reluctant to spend the money to bring their ships here for such a frivolous purpose in light of the so-called sequester. I think the brass of the Coast Guard have been flattered and honored to the point of embarrassment, although I anticipate letters to the editor to the contrary.

The Coast Guard Festival is also expensive to the city and, evidently, to the Jaycees, which is finding it difficult to pay for last year’s July 4 fireworks. Don’t expect me to contribute to such frivolity. One set of fireworks per annum is enough.

I don’t mean to embarrass the Coast Guard, for I think it is a fine institution, and an essential and necessary service. If I were young enough and interested in a military career, I would certainly make the Coast Guard a high priority.

Ergo, why not take advantage of the natural facilities that we have been blessed with and encourage the almost free publicity we therefore have? We don’t need fireworks, for kites can be flown spectacularly at night.

Incidentally, kudos go to Mackinaw Kite Co. for making kite enthusiasts aware of the Grand Haven facilities and making this past weekend a success.

Actually, if I had my druthers, I’d druther have no festivities at all — rather, leave Grand Haven to the Grand Havenites, but that isn't very wise as far as the local economy is concerned.

Well, this weekend marks the beginning of summer. So, I hope you enjoy it and all of its festivities. Go fly a kite.

— By Ralph Wiltse, Tribune community columnist



you and i think alike, i have been here in the tri-city area all of my life and frankly getting tired of coast guard fest, i rather see it gone, the kite fest don't focus on downtown area and thats where they want the people to spend money at the local stores, i do not know know anyone that lives in this area that shops in there, some time ago someone mention of a convention center here in grand haven, but it never developed, thats where the money would come in year around and provide jobs to the local people, need a better solution for grand haven, not coast guard fest


Wow Mr. Wiltse.....you're a regular curmudgeon aren't you? A real wet blanket. If you, and others who share you views don't enjoy the festivities of summertime in Grand Haven then my suggestion to you would be to just stay home and continue to make your wife's life miserable. Leave the good times in town for those who can enjoy them.

And for the record your reading comprehension sucks too. The situation with the fireworks has nothing to do with the Coast Guard Festival or the Chamber. It's the 4th of July fireworks that are the topic and it's the Jaycess organization that seems to have financial issues in that they haven't yet paid for last year's show.

Finally, my suggestion to you would be to lay off the lemons and maybe you wouldn't be such an old sourpuss. You sound like someone who'd get joy out of popping the balloons of small children. I hope I never get so old and bitter that I begrudge people the opportunity to enjoy a good time in the summer.

Have a nice day.


well said Lessthanamused........I am in my 40s and have the HONOR of working downtown...we welcome CG Fest...business increases 50% its such a wonderful time for our city...maybe sourpuss needs to move to Florida where there arent young successful families who enjoy taking their kids out to such silly festivals and boosting the city's economy

Say No To Tourist's

Business increases 50%, mine too. once you take out labor costs, utilities, costs of what you sell, small business tax, ect. Your really left with only 7-10% profit at best AND depending on the total revenue you bring in, does it really make that much difference?

deuce liti

Mr. Wiltse,
You and I are a lot alike! I, too, am afraid of being knocked over by small children. In fact, I don't like the young folks at all. They're so loud with their rap music and Pac-Man video games.

Why, I remember back in 19 ought 6 when a quarter used to cost a nickel and everyone was doing a crazy new dance called, The Funky Grandpa! FDR and I went to school together and one time he was swooning my sister, Mildridge, by calling her on his Victorola dictamaphone. Well to make a long story was a phrase that has a long and convoluted origin.

You know, I have asked the city to turn the volume down on the fireworks for years now. I shouldn't have to turn down my hearing aid because I'm a tax payer! I've also asked the the city to serve dinner at 4pm and go to bed by 5 right after Matlock, but to no avail.

So Mr. Wiltse, you keep fighting the good fight on your end and I shall do the same on my end. After all, we didn't defeat Hitler just hand over Old Glory to a bunch of lazy ragamuffins or slack-jawed troglodytes did we?

Your man-at-arms,
The Deuce.

Proud Citizen o...

Perhaps if this "guest" columnist had done his research he wouldn't embarrass himself with his opinions. The Chamber of Commerce although supportive in every way, has no connection to the fireworks offered on the Fourth of July BY THE JAYCEES OR the Coast Guard Festival fireworks, paid for by the Festival sponsors and a local generous citizen. The Festival exists to HONOR the men and women of the US Coast Guard and EVERYONE in the Coast Guard loves Grand Haven AND knows it is the one and only COAST GUARD CITY USA. Enjoy the Kite Festival Mr. Wiltse and please don't be offended by the parade on Memorial Day, the rededication of the Musical Fountain and of course, the Salute to Veterans on Veteran's Day. Maybe your grandchildren will appreciate it and enjoy it!


Geez, Mr. Grumpy Pants,

Why do you live here if you're so embarrassed by the place? And if you're going to complain so loudly in print, at least get your facts straight. What does the 4th of July fireworks celebration have to do with the Coast Guard Festival? I thought journalism required some fact checking. I guess that's not the case with 'community' columnists.

Your comment about leaving the tourists out is laughable. Do you really think we'd have our beautiful city if it weren't for tourist dollars? Wow - unbelievable comment!

I hope you can find a way to open your heart a bit more and celebrate our wonderful community instead of complaining about it.

Enjoy your summer!

Say No To Tourist's

Soupy, tourist dollars? Please tell me where the tourist money made Grand Haven what it is......The local business' only see a portion, the City sees some through small business taxes. The carnies and portable puke wagons make up the majority. Theirs more money spent by the City doing the prep work and cleaning up after these slobs every night there here than they bring in from revinues.

I'll be waiting.


Point taken Say No. You probably have better insight into this that I do. I was referring to Grand Haven overall but it sounds like maybe you're referring strictly to the Coast Guard Festival. I'm not qualified to comment on the Festival but what I meant to say was that the city of Grand Haven wouldn't be what it is today with the beautiful boardwalk, etc., without tourist dollars. I really don't think that everyone strolling the boardwalk and frequenting our retail stores and restaurants are locals. The tourists are bringing in money - not sure how that can be disputed.

I agree with you on the carnies and puke wagons (good description!). I think we are probably more aligned on this than our respective notes appear. It seems like we both want what's best for Grand Haven.

Please don't be mad but I must admit that I eat an elephant ear every year during Coast Guard Festival!

Say No To Tourist's

Soupy, I'm with ya on the elephant ears or Pronto Pups "Deep fried paradise"...lol! Yes the Tourist do bring in moneys for business' However like I said in another post, once you take out all your costs of doing business. Your only left with a 7-10% profit margin at best. Look at other towns similar to Grand Haven, Saugatuck & Holland. Both nice towns that have some of the same things we do to attract tourists. But the beautification projects are funded by state and local grants. That's false information to think that because of tourism and tourist moneys our towns look the way they do.


It isn't really " false information to think that because of tourism and tourist moneys our towns look the way they do". But you have to understand the money path to realize how it impacts
a city. In a nut shell the more money people make the more they have to spend. The more they spend the more a city takes in in a variety of forms. If a cities downtown area doesn't thrive it effects city budgets. City budgets pay for everything. Tourism in Grand Haven effects everything from property values to the price of a Hot Dog. If the city knew how to tap into the tourist directly even more money would flow into community projects.

Say No To Tourist's

I'm fully aware of how the monies are made and spent in this town, I own 2 business' downtown and partnership in 3 others. If you look at the P&l statements for the entire year, month by month. The 4th and Coast Guard only make up a small percentage of extra sales. Your assumptions add to the fact of false information.


I wasn't talking about just the 4th and Coast Guard. (even though that is the subject of the article) I was talking about the tourist season. Your statement " the beautification projects are funded by state and local grants" is fundamentally true. But the city always has to kick in funds as well, to receive the Grants. I don't think it is at all false information to say that tourist money has had an effect on how Grand Haven looks, feels and functions. And that is not a bad thing. Neither Saugatuck or Holland has what Grand Haven has. That being the proximity with their downtown area and the Lake.

Say No To Tourist's

I dunno. Holland has lake Mackatoilet and we have the Grand River....same thing...lol! Your right this takes local monies also, I left that part out. Looking back at Grand haven in the 70's downtown wasn't what it is today, now look at the overall picture. Grand Haven want to put in bumpers for free moorings on the seawall AT our expense, heated sidewalks for a dead town in the winter, paver sidewalks that have failed 3 times already. The entrance into Grand Haven looking at Grand flop.....errrrrrr Grand Landing, BIG MISTAKE, bathrooms at the city beach that weren't really needed, yet the City is facing/have budget cuts where we no longer have leaf pickup anymore. Yet they can run the street sweeper every night during along with the street crew to keep everything nicey nice for Coast Guard. A lot of people aren't seeing the corruption within the the cities thought process and reasoning. Now what people have failed to realize is the tourist money is a very small portion to make Grand Haven look like it is, the majority is tax based from new business' making there mark here in the city.


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