'As annoying as it is, it's kind of fun'

Emma Dale • Aug 4, 2017 at 12:00 PM

For Nunica’s April Neitring and her foster children, Thursday was all about getting out to Washington Avenue early enough to hold a spot for Saturday’s Coast Guard Festival Grand Parade. 

As a native of Grand Haven, Neitring said she’s been holding her spot for more than five years.

However, Neitring said they came down last year at about 6 p.m. on Thursday before the parade and were too late to secure a spot. So this year, they showed up at 10:30 a.m.

“(It’s a) family tradition — we want a spot,” she said. “My husband thinks it’s important we don’t just walk up to the parade.”

Neitring and her foster sons made the day entertaining by setting up a table with cards and board games. They said they were also prepared with umbrellas if rain came.

Just across the way on Washington Avenue, Mike Shafer of Grand Haven sat with his daughter, Melissa. They’ve sat in the same spot for the parade for the past 32 years.

“Something we’ve done, (and) my mom used to do it for about 40 years,” Shafer said. “(Just) keep the tradition going.”

The Shafers said their spot — complete with two tents to provide some shade — will hold about 25 family members. Mike said the good time they will have on Saturday makes it worth sitting out for 14 hours to reserve the spot.

On the corner of Fifth and Clinton, Matt Schulte and his son, 3-year-old Oliver, were setting up blankets in preparation of the parade. The Grand Haven man explained that this is the first year they are marking their own spot, as they have watched the parade with friends and family the past few years.

Schulte said he would be taking shifts with his wife and friends. He said later they would be hanging out and setting up hammocks.

“The main thing is that we have a bunch of kids ages 3 through 8 — getting them a spot close is important so they can see everything,” Schulte said. “It’s a fun thing to do, even being here as annoying as it is, it’s kind of fun.” 

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