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Tradition returns as hundreds welcome ships back to Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival

Hundreds of people welcomed Coast Guard vessels to the festival, including the 240-foot U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — A tradition unlike any other has finally returned to Grand Haven: The Parade Of Ships.

The beloved tradition was canceled last year but Monday afternoon, hundreds of people warmly welcomed Coast Guard vessels to the festival, including the 240-foot U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw.

The Mackinaw is the U.S. Coast Guard's only heavy icebreaker on the Great Lakes. And when it's not at the festival, this ship's job is to break ice to help keep channels and harbors open for commerce and navigation.

The ship's leader is Captain Kristen Serumgard. It is her second time stationed in the Great Lakes, but her first time in Grand Haven at the Coast Guard Festival.

"You always hear about the Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven and how wonderful it is," said Serumgard, "and I've always said you'll never be more loved as a Coast Guard member than you are in the Great Lakes, and to be at this festival really is tremendous."

She went on to say that she is excited for her crew to feel that love and support.

"The job that we do, aids-to-navigation and ice breaking, it doesn't tend to get the big headlines that our drug or migrant interdiction operations, or our big search and rescue crews get," Serumgard said. "We don't get quite those headlines but what we're doing is just as vital and important to our nation and to this area."

The Mackinaw definitely felt the love and support Monday, though, as it was welcomed into the city of Grand Haven. 

Hundreds of people lined the piers cheering and waving as it docked in front of Bicentennial Park where it will stay for the duration of the festival.

"I'm just grateful that we were able to make it happen," said Serumgard, "and we are looking forward to having folks on board and enjoying all the events in Grand Haven in the week ahead."

You can see the USCGC Mackinaw and four other boats now through Saturday, Aug. 7. 

Ship Tour Schedule: 

Monday, Aug. 2
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 3
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 4
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 5
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 6
Mackinaw will be closed all day
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 7
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
6 p.m. – 8 p.m. 

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