May 5, 2020

CONTACT: Katie Wolf
T: 989-277-3543

Thunder Bay Maritime Festival Events Cancelled for July 3rd and 4th Due to Community Health Concerns

ALPENA, MICH. – After carefully assessing the Centers for Disease Control’s current projections for the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lingering health risks of hosting a large festival intended to bring the community together to celebrate our nation’s independence and our rich maritime heritage, sanctuary leadership in conjunction with community partners, have decided to cancel the July 3rd and 4th festivities that include:

  • Battle of the Paddles and Craft Beer Tasting
  • Thunder Bay Maritime Festival
  • Cardboard Boat Regatta
  • Thunder Bay Chalk Art Contest

“This has been a heart-wrenching decision given how much it means to the entire sanctuary team, Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) members, and our volunteers to host this fantastic annual event,” said Friends Board President Chuck Wiesen.

“Many people shared with us over the years how Alpena is absolutely the best place to be on July 4th, a ‘huge family reunion,’” said Sanctuary Superintendent Jeff Gray.

“We want the community to know that our team is working diligently every day to explore creative new ways to provide rich educational programming, critical research, and community outreach opportunities throughout the course of this pandemic,” Gray added. “Please stay engaged as we announce ways for you and your family to explore your sanctuary.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary since TBNMS was federally designated as the nation’s first freshwater sanctuary.

“When it is safe to do so, the sanctuary team looks forward to thanking the community and celebrating, in person.  Next year’s festival will be bigger and better. Northeast Michigan will roar back from this pandemic,” concluded Gray.

To learn more about the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, visit For upcoming events or to support the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, visit