Coast Guard City, USA

In an effort to make ourselves feel better about ourselves some number of years ago our society dove headfirst into a culture of political correctness.  It is labeled as such because it isn't real.  It's political.  Just for show.  To be clear Grand Haven, MI was the original Coast Guard City.  There are now twelve, but Grand Haven was number one.  The natives are proud of this designation and celebrate it every year with a parade, a carnival, and extended curfews.

Since I've lived in West Michigan, it has always been my goal to not go to Coast Guard Festival.  100,000 people packed into a town designed to hold 10,000.  Impossible parking.  Blazing heat.  Porta-Potties.  But this year I was invited by someone who calls Grand Haven her hometown.  She encouraged me to experience Coast Guard Festival as a local.  And so I took her up on her offer.

Atmosphere: 4/5: I had to downgrade atmosphere merely because of the rain.  It wasn't the fault of the festival, but it did put a slight damper on the first three hours of the day. As usual festivals and parades have a way of drawing every kind of person out of the woodwork, including people you didn't know existed and didn't know could exist.  

Service: 3/5: This was predominantly a self serve operation.  Everything was accessible if you were willing to walk for miles or kick small children off of their scooters to steal them. 

Presentation: 5/5: I'm going to focus solely on the parade here. The little girls loved the queen floats.  There was the Blueberry Queen, the Red Flannel Queen, the Gerber Baby Princess Queen, the Ferrysburg Queen, and of course the Coast Guard Queen. My favorite float was the Holiday Inn float, which appeared to be the Holiday Inn sign from the hotel lobby perched on a truck bed. My favorite group was, by far, the AARP sponsored Mickey Mouse Club. The Muskegon Heights marching band was a close second with its krumpin' teens.

Technique: 4/5: Again, I'm going to focus on the parade, which felt like the largest portion of the day.  The inclusiveness of this spectacle was inspiring.  Not only were Queens and Clubs allowed to have floats, but so was every marching band, realtor, plumber, builder, car dealer, and cross dressing clown.  The only error in execution was the two hour wait between the end of the parade and beginning of the Clown Band performance which lead me to believe that this Band was something that one ought to enjoy. 

Value: 3/5: Cost: One full day. I would like to have the time back spent listening to the Clown Band in the Eagles Pavilion. The two minutes I watched them at the tail of the parade was beyond sufficient. I also wouldn't mind giving back the bruises incurred while loading scooters into the trunk of a car.

Overall Experience: 5/5: Because I was with locals I had access to flushing toilets, something that most out-of-towners would have to forgo, which enhanced my experience. Neither did I need to worry about parking. But most importantly I laughed. I laughed at adults riding a child's scooter. I laughed at children grooving to the Clown Band. I laughed at the AARP sponsored Mickey Mouse Club. And there was spontaneous laughter triggered by things I cannot even recall. 

*Note to our readers: Juli was unable to attend Coast Guard festival and was therefore unable to participate in this rating.*

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