CHERETTE: Coast Guard Week: Why do we love the madness?

Aug 3, 2011

Why then, after all the picture-taking and asking for directions to a place that is less than a mile away, do I love Coast Guard Week so much?

That’s the question I’ve been pondering for the past few days. How can a self-professed tourist-loather feel giddy at the thought of waiting 30 minutes to ride the stupid dragon roller coaster for the millionth time or paying way too much for a lemonade? What makes this week so special even though it never changes?

Last year, when construction on Washington Avenue almost forced the carnival to be moved, there was an outrage! Nobody knew why it was wrong; we just knew that it wouldn’t have been the same. The Ferris Wheel would have been just as fun on Franklin Avenue and the Zipper would have made just as many people throw up, but it would have lacked something.

I think the reason I never want the festival to change is that, every year, I get a sense of nostalgia during this week. I believe that anyone born and raised a Grand Haven Buccaneer knows exactly what I mean, even if the feeling is hard to put into words.

I was born at North Ottawa Community Hospital. I can’t remember ever living more than five minutes away from Lake Michigan. I’m as Grand Haven as it gets, and I love this town with my entire heart and soul.

The Coast Guard Festival is the beating heart of our town. It shows the world exactly who we are: Coast Guard City USA. Every parade, every fireworks show, every step taken on the pier is perfect to me. This week brings our town together like nothing else can. It’s 10 days a year where we all play host to thousands of people who come to see our town.

Ten days a year, we feel like the spotlight is on Grand Haven. We feel like our small town on the far left side of the mitten is the only place on Earth, like the world stops for us and the only thing that really matters is what theme the Musical Fountain will be tonight or what we should get at Dairy Treat (I recommend the Ninja Turtle Slushy).

Until the fireworks are finished and the last carnival stand is taken down, I’ll be in a state of bliss. Because, for 10 days a year, I get to experience Grand Haven at its core and be reminded of why I love this town so much.

I’ll be downtown until Saturday night, basking in the glory of Dewey Hill and praying that I see Tom Izzo again this year (I’ve got some strategy I think he would really love to hear).

After that, I’ll spend the rest of my life in traffic, trying to get back to my house after the fireworks. And I’ll love every second of it.

— By John Cherette, Tribune Community Columnist

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