District commander promotes boating safety in Chicago

Rear Adm. Parks (center) discusses boating safety at Wrigley Field with Alison Ruble (left), president of the USO of Illinois and Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class George Degener.

Last week, as part of National Safe Boating Week, an annual observance sponsored by the National Safe Boating Council and endorsed by the Coast Guard, Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, traveled to Chicago to participate in the Chicago Waterways Public Safety Campaign and the Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony.

On the morning of May 26, Parks journeyed to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, to promote the Coast Guard’s boating safety messages by appearing on the diamond and throwing out a ceremonial first pitch. After tossing a strike over the plate, Parks appeared at a press conference at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Representatives from Illinois, Indiana, the City Of Chicago, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Chicago-area boating community delivered their safety messages to members of the media gathered before them.

Rear Adm. Michael N. Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, presents the Great Lakes Recreational Boating and Water Safety Plan, May 26, 2011, at a Chicago news conference. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class George Degener.

“We come together today with the Great City of Chicago, representative agencies from the states of Illinois and Indiana, national and regional leaders representing the commercial and recreational vessel communities, and representatives of the water safety community to raise awareness about the importance of water and boating safety,” said Parks.

“Through our combined efforts we will strive to ensure this campaign is successful in raising the public’s awareness of water and boating safety and ultimately strive to save lives in this cherished part of the Great Lakes.”

Parks also announced the Ninth Coast Guard District’s Great Lakes Recreational Boating and Water Safety Campaign Plan. This will establish the overall policy for recreational boating safety and water safety campaigns within the Great Lakes System.

Also while in Chicago, Parks represented the Coast Guard at Chicago’s Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony and on the viewing stand during the parade. Alongside other service representatives, Parks marched behind JROTC students as they carried a wreath honoring those who have given their lives in sacrifice to their country.

Chicago-area Coast Guardsmen and Coast Guard auxiliarists participated in the celebrations. The annual Chicago Memorial Day Parade honors veterans, reserve and active-duty military personnel. It draws about 10,000 spectators every year and is considered one of the largest parades of its kind in the country.

CHICAGO -- Rear Adm. Michael Parks, (third from right) commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, represents the Coast Guard during a wreath laying ceremony held as part of the Memorial Day celebration here, May 28, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class George Degener.

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