Sturgeon Bay gears up for Coast Guard honor

STURGEON BAY – It’s all hands on deck for the city of Sturgeon Bay. This weekend, the city will celebrate its recent designation by Congress as a United States Coast Guard City.

Sturgeon Bay is home to a Coast Guard station and port safety unit, the cutter Mobile Bay and Bob Desh.

“I’m originally from the great sea-faring state of Nebraska,” said Desh, who spent 36 years in the Coast Guard and now heads up the Door County Maritime Museum. “As a Coast Guard veteran, and as a dyed-in-the-wool maritime history geek, this is a fabulous thing.”

His adopted home port of Sturgeon Bay is now one of 16 Coast Guard cities designated by Congress.

Camden County, Georgia and Sturgeon Bay were added in January. Sturgeon Bay is one of three on the Great Lakes.

The city and Coast Guard will hold a ceremony commemorating the honor Saturday morning.

The designation is based on a city’s efforts to make coast guard personnel feel welcome – while away from home.

“Cleveland isn’t a Coast Guard city and their command – which is Washington, D.C. – also isn’t a Coast Guard City,” explained Sturgeon Bay’s Mayor Thad Birmingham of the honor bestowed on his somewhat smaller city.

Birmingham says it applied for the title four years ago. However, at one time he says there were questions as to whether or not the Coast Guard would maintain a long-term presence in the city and on the water.

“I think, once we made the effort to really go out and show our appreciation for everything that they’ve done – especially this is really about the people. The personnel,” said Birmingham.

It’s a presence that goes back more than 130 years. It’s a designation Desh says is long-deserved.

“All these Coast Guard personnel ended up in Sturgeon Bay because they needed to be here,” said Desh.

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