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Manistee event brings helicopter touchdown, response agencies | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


MANISTEE — Kids in Manistee had a list of activities they could enjoy on Saturday. 

Whether it was trying on handcuffs, playing Plinko-inspired games for prizes, petting dogs, learning about cyber safety or watching a helicopter land in a softball field — Manistee area families were kept busy at the second annual Kid’s Safety Day and Cookout event.

Event organizer Manistee City Police chief Josh Glass said there has also been an increase in participating agencies at the event. 

“We are so thankful to be able to have this number of organizations give their time on a Saturday afternoon … to come together in the name of child safety,” Glass said. “It’s really humbling to see this many people come together.”

The event featured people staffing booths from police, fire, Department of Natural Resources, EMS, Centra Wellness Network, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services foster care, Lakeshore Children’s Advocacy Center, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Goon Threads anti-bullying apparel, Wesco and others. 

Glass said the event is perfectly timed to draw kids in to learn about safety as kids prepare for summer break.

“Whether it be water safety, boating safety, body safety. We’ve kind of covered as many bases as we can: We’ve got OK to Say, we’ve got boating, everything for the kids and for the parents,” he said. “I hope that this is an event that we can have every year.”

The event is also consistent with the Manistee City Police Department’s goals to have positive interactions with the public, Glass said. 

“I hear countless stories about some of my officers when they were young (saying that) ‘having a great interaction with a police officer is the reason why I wanted to be a police officer.’ It’s about positive interactions with the public, giving our young people the tools for safety and it’s just a fun Saturday afternoon.

Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City crew members flew to Manistee for the Kid's Safety Day event on June 3, 2023. The helicopter landed at the First Street Beach softball fields where families had a chance to observe and sit inside the aircraft. 

Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City crew members flew to Manistee for the Kid’s Safety Day event on June 3, 2023. The helicopter landed at the First Street Beach softball fields where families had a chance to observe and sit inside the aircraft. 

Arielle Breen/News Advocate

That increase in participation includes some, like the U.S. Coast Guard,  that are attending for the first time.

Nick Gera, Coast Guard Station Manistee commanding officer, said he hopes the event grows each year and that it helps kids learn about different safety forms. 

“We’re all treating this as a recruiting event not for now, but for 10 years from now so instill these disciplines in the kids now let them see all the cool sides of first responders and emergency response and hopefully it lights a spark later on in their life,” Gera said. 

The Coast Guard Station Manistee had watercraft, a helicopter rescue swimmer and personnel stationed at the Armory like the other agencies, but then they took things a step further. 

Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City crew members flew a HH60 Jayhawk and they landed at the First Street Beach softball field shortly after the event kicked off at the Armory.

The helicopter flew around the softball field and finally landed, stirring up a dust storm that coated eager young visitors and their families. 

After the dust settled and the crew was able to perform post-flight checks on equipment, families had a chance to see inside the aircraft and ask questions about the Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City and why residents tend to see the helicopter so often.

“The community sees these helicopters flying up and down the coasts all the time but a lot of people haven’t seen them in person,” Gera said. 

Pilot Brian Eldridge said the air station often teams up with the Coast Guard Station Manistee. 

“They support us a lot so a lot of the training we do we’ll do with the Coast Guard station down here. So they were doing a community event and asked us to come help out and we’re more than happy to do that,” Eldridge said. 

The crew that flew to Manistee was called a standard duty crew.

“We always fly with four people so we have two pilots, one flight mechanic who in flight will also operate the hoist and then one rescue swimmer,” Eldridge said. 

He noted that the air station does a lot of flying over the region and people often wonder what the crew is doing. 

“A lot of people don’t even know why we’re on the Great Lakes, they think Coast guard and just big oceans but we have more coastline cumulatively on the Great Lakes than they do in the state of California,” he said. 

The Traverse City station covers Lake Michigan and Superior as well as the northern portions of Lake Huron. 

“We support all 11 statutory missions of the Coast Guard. Specifically, number one is going to be search and rescue. We’re around 24/7, 365 days a year, standing duty,” he said. “We can also support aids to navigation missions, so getting crews out to service the lighthouses, get buoys and all that stuff out there for crews, environmental protection, all that kind of stuff.”

He said the members are also deployable for hurricanes, migrant interdiction and other services. 

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