Sturgeon Bay proclaimed an official "Coast Guard City"
STURGEON BAY - Hundreds of people and Coast Guard members gathered in Sturgeon Bay Saturday to celebrate an honor that doesn't come around often.
The Door County community was recognized by Congress as a Coast Guard City.
To qualify, one of the main requirements is for residents within the designated area to welcome and support Coast Guard members and their families.
Coast Guard Captain John Little lived in Sturgeon Bay for three years with his wife and children.
"The whole community embraced my family," said Little.
They now live in Virginia but when Little heard about the celebration, he says he couldn't pass up the opportunity to return.
"The residents of Door County just made us feel so much at home and it's been a real reunion," Little said.
Only 16 communities in the U.S. have been designated as Coast Guard Cities.
"It's a great day for the city of Sturgeon Bay," said Thad Birmingham, Sturgeon Bay's mayor.
Birmingham said the designation is appropriate given the history.
"They've been around for 130 plus years so it's not something that just started overnight," Birmingham said.
Dignitaries at Saturday's ceremony recognized the city's efforts to acknowledge the work of the Coast Guard men and women assigned to the area - including hosting maritime week.
Residents like Tim Graul are proud of the new title.
"It just enhances the stature of Sturgeon Bay as a maritime community and part of the Coast Guard family," said Graul.
The community realizes many Coast Guard members aren't stationed in the area for very long, but residents said Sturgeon Bay will always be a place for the men and women in uniform to call home.