Day campers save spot for street dance

Becky Vargo • Aug 1, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Doug and Diana Sovis parked their fifth-wheel camper at the Covenant Life Church parking lot for 25 years so they could be in the thick of things during the Coast Guard Festival.

Now they take their pickup truck camper to different areas and park for the day so they can be in the best position to enjoy that evening’s event.

On Tuesday, the Sovises were up at 5:30 a.m. to get a spot on Fourth Street near Washington Avenue, in front of the Ottawa County Courthouse, in advance of the Coast Guard Festival Street Dance scheduled for that evening on Washington Avenue.

“We came early so we could get this spot with the grass,” said Diana, who was sitting in a lawn chair on her temporary yard, holding an umbrella to block the hot sun.

Their dog, Abby, lay under the camper steps in an attempt to stay in the shade.

“Everybody in town knows her because we take her to the Central Park music every week,” Diana said of her dog.

The small plot of grass was filled with people late Tuesday morning. Granddaughter Ashleigh Elzinga, also of Grand Haven, said she was driving by when she saw her grandparents and decided to stop and say hello. Her sons — Atlas, 3, and Jackson, 5— played quietly as the outside temperature rose.

Doug, who said he was born “in the white house at the corner of Clinton and Third streets," declared that he has been in Grand Haven for more than 77 years and he’s not moving. He noted that he has also been to the Coast Guard Festival every year.

Part of the reason the Sovises brought their camper downtown in the past was because they handled communications and traffic control for 25 years with the Ottawa County Civil Defense.

“We were one of the originators,” Diana said.

Now they just want to watch.

Diana said they would not be staying overnight and would probably leave the camper home, and even stay home as more events happen and more people come into town.

Now that Diana isn’t able to get around as well, they’ve chosen to stay home on the festival’s biggest day and watch the activities on the internet.

“Last year, we watched the entire parade and the fireworks (online),” Diana said.

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