Closing the Coast Guard Festival carnival earlier and adding fencing in the area of First Street and Washington Avenue contributed to a “significant improvement” in the overall situation the last two nights of the festival, according to Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke.
The carnival closed at 11 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, and the fencing aided in crowd control efforts, Hawke said.
“There were fewer incidents on Friday and Saturday nights, and officers cleared the crowd from Washington/First shortly after the carnival closed,” he said.
Police experienced a similar volume of calls as in previous years, Hawke said, but there were fewer fights and alcohol/substance-related disorderly conduct incidents in the downtown.
“The downtown crowd was still large, but we had adequate personnel assigned and the changes were an improvement,” the chief said. “Officers received many positive comments, which is greatly appreciated.”
Lost/found property (55), medical emergencies (51) and parking complaints (48) produced the greatest number of complaints during the festival week, July 27 to Aug. 3.
Also high on the list were assists to the public (39), traffic complaints (31), disorderly person/disturbance (26) and traffic crash without injury (25). There were three traffic crashes involving injuries.
An incident during Saturday’s Grand Parade involved a festival volunteer who fell off an all-terrain vehicle near the end of the parade route and broke his arm. Hawke said the man was otherwise OK.
Other incidents included 10 abandoned vehicles, seven animal complaints, 13 “check well-being” requests, one child abuse complaint, six fire alarms, six cases of fraud, six fireworks complaints, nine intoxicated persons, four intoxicated drivers, 14 thefts, six lockouts and five lost children. There were also three water rescue calls.
On the water
Chief Kirk McKay of Coast Guard Station Grand Haven said “everything actually went pretty well” as far as law enforcement on the water.
Eleven patrol boats were on the water for Saturday night’s festival finale. McKay said the biggest problem they had was trying to hold back boaters after the fireworks, when boaters anxious to get home pulled up anchor too soon.
Assisting the Coast Guard on the water was the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol, and two Maritime Safety and Security Team boats from New York.
Other than a cold, rainy, windy July 29 that forced the cancellation of the Parade of Ships, the area experienced comfortable summer weather all week, and that attracted a lot of boaters, McKay said.
The most serious incident occurred during the fireworks grand finale Saturday when a boat ran into a jetty in Muskegon. McKay said he thought they would have to free a boat to head north, but the boat stationed in Muskegon was able to handle the situation.
McKay recalled only one drunken boating incident on Sunday, in which the operator blew a 0.18 on a Breathalyzer. The legal alcohol limit for operating a boat is the same as a car, 0.08.
As usual, there were a few boats that broke down and the Coast Guard would tow them when the salvage company was not available.
“For the most part, everyone seemed to be on good behavior,” he said.