Cardboard Boat Race New for 2016 Coast Guard Festival

Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay at its mooring at the Cleveland Moorings Facility. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher M. Yaw)
Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay at its mooring at the Cleveland Moorings Facility. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher M. Yaw)

A cardboard boat race will test the waters of this year's aviation-themed Coast Guard Festival, festival officials told Grand Haven City Council on Monday night.

Festival Director Mike Smith presented an overview of the 2016 festivities in advance of council approving the activities and permits for the festival, which is scheduled for July 29 to Aug. 7.

The final approvals will be done at an upcoming City Council meeting.

The cardboard boat race course will be in front of Centennial Park at 1 S. Harbor Ave. and will be limited to 20 boats.

"Because it's new, we want to make sure we manage it safely," said Festival Board President Scott Klaassen, who noted the success of the annual cardboard sled race during Winterfest.

Registration will soon be taken online at

The race will take place Saturday, July 30. There will be awards for fastest boat, best looking or most spectacular boat, most spectacular sinking, public favorite, and most creative design that honors the Coast Guard.

Also new this year will be a flea market on Seventh Street and visits by vintage aircraft, including a privately owned plane similar to those first used by the Coast Guard 100 years ago, Smith said.

Details are still being finalized for the events.

Smith said last year's 225th anniversary celebration was "spectacular." He was expecting things to calm down a little this year until Coast Guard officials informed him the service was celebrating 100 years of aviation with the theme "Into the Storm." In response, they asked Smith to go with a similar theme for the Grand Haven festival and have agreed to reassign some different Coast Guard aircraft for it.

"They are shifting aircraft from Cape Cod to Muskegon so they can be here during the festival," Smith said. "There's excitement literally and figuratively in the air."

Smith said there would be different vintage Coast Guard aircraft in the skies over Grand Haven during the week. The aircraft will also be featured at some of the events.

Plans are also being made to move the city dinner, a private event, to the Grand Haven Memorial Airport this year.

The rest of the festival will be very similar to previous years, with a slight change in the vessels in port for the week. Appearing this year will be the Coast Guard cutters Morro Bay, Mobile Bay and Hollyhock, a Canadian Coast Guard patrol boat, and the University of Michigan's Laurentian.

Entertainment events at Waterfront Stadium will include a Simon and Garfunkel tribute, a kids and family-friendly event called "Playing out Loud," and Supreme Reflections, as well as regulars the Grand City Skiers and "Festival Idol."

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