On and off the job with Scott Klaassen

Scott Klaassen, chairman of the 2016 Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival
Scott Klaassen, chairman of the 2016 Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival

By David Hoekman

Community service is a family tradition for Scott Klaassen.

Klaassen is the chairman of the 2016 Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival, July 29 to Aug. 7.

This year’s festival theme is 100 years of Coast Guard aviation.

On the festival job

Klaassen’s parents were volunteers with the festival, which has been held annually since 1937.

Klaassen recalled he was a high school student when his father encouraged him to get involved with the festival.

His first task: driving a vehicle that pulled a parade float carrying the Coast Guard Queen and her court.

He has served on the 22-member festival board for over 20 years and was the chairman in 2005.

Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival
Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival

“It’s a real honor to recognize the men and women in the Coast Guard,” Klaassen said. “The most important part of the 10-day festival is the National Coast Guard Memorial Service on Aug. 5 at Escanaba Park.”

This year’s service will remember Coast Guard aviators who have lost their lives.

Festival executive director Michael J. Smith previously served as the group commander of Coast Guard Station Grand Haven.

“Scott’s father was the volunteer president of the festival when I was transferred to Grand Haven,” Smith said. “And now, full circle. I retired and filled the executive director position, and Scott, his son, is carrying on the family tradition.”

The mission of the festival is not only to produce a fun event, but also to honor the men and women of the Coast Guard in Grand Haven with events and support, such as Easter egg hunts, parties and picnics.

“We try to keep the personnel engaged year-round,” Klaassen said. “Grand Haven is a special place to be stationed. A lot of people in the branch think it’s a great, great spot.”

Off the festival job

Klaassen is the owner of Klaassen Family Funeral Home in Grand Haven with his father and brother.

He enjoys boating in Michigan in the summer and skiing in the winter. Traveling and spending time with family and friends are also priorities.

Grand Haven
Coast Guard Festival