In light of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, also known as Mr. Madison’s War, tall ships will be sailing up the eastern coastline to Greenport, competing in the Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast 2012.
These majestic tall ships will be sailing into port this Memorial Day weekend. A tall ship—a large, traditionally-
rigged sailing vessel characterized by its towering masts—was the type of ship that dominated the seas 200 years ago.
The festival in the small North Fork village is part of a yearlong celebration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Besides docking at Greenport, the challenge is also making appearances in Savannah, Georgia; Charlestown, South Carolina and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Greenport Mayor David Nyce is proud that his village is part of this challenge alongside major American cities. “To have a really cool event in a village of this size-—like Greenport—is astounding,” Nyce commented in an interview.
Seven royal ships will be making their way into Greenport on Friday evening (May 25). The small North Fork town is the second port to host the Tall Ships fleet on the holiday weekend.
Nyce is hoping for 75,000 people to come into town over the weekend to walk the shop-lined streets, to explore the spectacular towering ships, and to enjoy the village’s annual carnival, which has been put on by the local fire department for the last 30 years.
The ships set sail out of Savannah, Georgia on May 7, where the fleet started on its odyssey up the East Coast towards Greenport, Long Island. The ships will continue north to Newport, Rhode Island (July 6-9), before finally anchoring in Halifax, Nova Scotia (July 19-23).
The Bounty, Lynx, Picton Castle, Pride of Baltimore II, Unicorn, Summerwind, and the Roseway are the seven confirmed ships that will be in port for the weekend.
Mayor Nyce informs that his office has been working since last July to make this event happen. Tall Ships America, the organization arranging the racing challenge, contacted the village knowing that it has held smaller, but similar events.
“We’ve never done something quite like this,” says Nyce. “We’ve hosted ships and musical festivals annually, but never of this size.”
Though the marvel attraction is the magnificent ships towering over the small town, Mitchell Park will host a fête. The waterfront will have activities that will keep kids and adults entertained, a carnival in the evening, and of course the classical carousel will be perpetually spinning.
Musical concerts will only add to the delightful ambience, as merchants and streetside vendors will be creating their own festival atmosphere offering a smorgasbord of food; fine dining at local restaurants like Claudio’s, Noah’s and the Frisky Oyster will also add to the festivities.
Though the tall ships are the main attraction, the festival is also about promoting maritime history. Tall Ships America’s mission is to provide a unique educational experience for young children and nautical enthusiasts interested in sailing.
In addition, the East End Seaport Museum is presenting a nautical exhibit called “Art of the Sailor.”
The village held a Tall Ship event eight years ago in 2004. However, for that festival the town received financial aid from a grant that covered the touring fees of the boats, which can range from $20,000 to $40,000. Though the village does not have that grant this year, visitors will still be allowed to see the magnificent ships for a small fee $8 ($7 if bought previously online), and children under 12 are free.
“We’ll try and put on the event of the year,” says an enthusiastic Nyce.