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Picnics and Parades:
100 Years of the Coast Guard Festival

The Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival is a nationally renowned event attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The fact that the Coast Guard has a festival of this size and importance is unsurprising. The Coast Guard is, after all, a vital part of the United States military that saves lives at sea and enforces the law in U.S. waters. But, how did the most popular Coast Guard Festival come to be in Grand Haven, Michigan? Why is this festival here and not at a major Atlantic or Pacific port, or in New London, Connecticut, the home of the Coast Guard Academy? 


This exhibition explores the question of how and why Grand Haven became the host city for the largest Coast Guard Festival in the country. The answer lies in the unique bond between the United States Coast Guard and Grand Haven’s community. This connection started with the establishment of the Life Saving Service’s Station Grand Haven in 1876 and was strengthened through the bond between the USCGC Escanaba and the community. With each passing year, the Festival celebrated and cemented this bond, allowing the event to grow from a modest picnic for Coast Guard personnel and their families to the massive festival it is today.

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Programs for Picnics and Parades

TCHM offers engaging programs - tied to our exhibits - that invite kids and adults to explore more deeply the Tri-Cities history on display.

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Coast Guard Trivia Night!

July 30 | 7pm​

Trivia fans unite! Join us at Odd Side Ales for a maritime-themed trivia night. Drawing facts, tidbits, and tales from the Picnics and Parades exhibit, this evening will be fun for Festival aficionados, maritime fans, and trivia lovers!

Fee: $0

No RSVP required.

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Tots at Tri-Cities: Boats!

August 2  | 10 am-12 pm

Drop in at the Museum with your preschooler (older siblings welcome too!) as we explore all about boats. We will read some stories, dive into activities that encourage you to test out how things float, hunt for boats in the Museum, and build a small boat of your own to race! These activities will be on-going from 10am-12pm.

Fee: $0 

No RSVP required.

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Drop-In Guided Tours

Daily during Coast Guard Festival

All ages will enjoy a guided tour of the Picnics and Parades exhibit, led by our Gallery Guides. Let our exhibit experts let you in on Coast Guard Festival details and share the long history the Tri-Cities have had with the Festival. Available from 11am to 5pm weekdays and 12pm to 6pm weekends during Coast Guard Festival. Enlightening for locals and visitors alike!

Fee: $0

No RSVP required.

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