Saturday is the 17th anniversary of the Great Dewey Hill Fire in Grand Haven. Check out video of the fire here.

One of the highlights of the annual Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven is the evening fireworks show. In the past, the fireworks used to be launched from a barge in the river. In recent decades, the fireworks have been shot into the air from Dewey Hill, the home of the famous Musical Fountain.

The fire department comes out and sprays down the hill with water prior to the display, to keep sparks from starting the dune grass on fire.

In 2005, it was unusually warm and dry prior to Coast Guard Saturday. In the eleven days prior to the fireworks that year, Grand Rapids received just 0.03″ of rain. Grand Rapids also had an average high temperature of 88 degrees.

The hill caught fire – in more than several places. The fire increased rapidly – more people were watching the fire than the fireworks! Whole trees were on fire! The fire department worked to get the fire under control. In fact, they were called back the next day to deal with hot spots and to keep the fire on the hill – not threatening homes behind the hill.

Saturday the Coast Guard Parade is at 11:45 am. The first year I was in that parade was 1975 and I don’t think I’ve missed one since. The first year the whole gang came and we went to Fracano’s for pizza after the parade. This year, Emily Linnert and I will be riding in the parade. Say “hi” if you see us.

There is an awesome Chicago cover band before the fireworks. It’ll be Saturday in the Park.

This is a day to honor the Coast Guard and to say “thanks” for keeping us safe. There have been hundreds of dramatic Coast Guard rescues on the Great Lakes, like this one. Give them a big round of applause and cheer when you see them in the parade and throughout the day in Grand Haven.