Police, organizers prepare for Coast Guard Festival

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Coast Guard Festival organizers estimate 350,000 people will be coming to Grand Haven over the next 10 days.

While everyone is focused on having a good time, the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety is focusing on keeping everyone safe.

Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said months of preparation goes into patrolling Grand Haven during the Coast Guard Festival.

They’ve also been working with state park personnel more closely after the July 3 fight that shut down the beach.

Hawke said a couple of factors went into the July incident.

“A lot of alcohol, so alcohol screening is imperative,” Hawke said. “Social media is being monitored. We’ve had various meetings with the state park personnel. Staff will be increased down there.”

Another big part of the department’s responsibility is keeping traffic flowing through downtown despite the thousands of people who will be out and about.

“A lot of that traffic control is happening in the background. So we’ll have road closures, parking lot closures, 40 different traffic control orders for the festival that most people probably don’t realize is going on,” Hawke said.

The festival’s marketing director, Annie Lengkeek, said it’s important for people to plan where they will park before heading down to the lakeshore. They work year round to make sure things run seamlessly throughout the week.

“We have 30 volunteers for Coast Guard Festival and four staff (members) that work yearlong to put on this festival. So it’s just feels like such an accomplishment when you actually get to when it starts,” Lengkeek told 24 Hour News 8. “I just feel like this community comes together and really opens its arms to this festival.”