Big 4th Celebrations on Both Coasts

Historic boats in New York

Left to right: Lehigh Valley Barge #79, tug Pegasus, the steamship Lilac, and fireboat John J. Harvey. The schooner Pioneer from the troubled South Street Seaport Museum will be part of the North River Historic Ship Festival for the first time this year.

Many maritime museums and heritage organizations are celebrating the Fourth of July next week with fireworks and other activities, and I’d like to make note of two. In the New York area, for the fifth year in a row, the North River Historic Ship Society will host an exclusive benefit party on the rooftop of Pier 66 Maritime (a.k.a. the Frying Pan Pier) at 26th Street and the Hudson River in Manhattan. This year’s celebration is particularly poignant, given the troubles at another New York maritime heritage organization, the South Street Seaport Museum. This week, the Museum of the City of New York said it was pulling its support for the maritime museum, blaming Hurricane Sandy. Rick Spilman at the Old Salt Blog has excellent posts on the matter. The South Street Seaport Museum has one of the leading collections of large heritage vessels, and I’m praying the museum can recover from its abandonment by its major patron.

On the other side of the country, the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, which operates the brig Lady Washington and the topsail ketch Hawaiian Chieftain, currently in Ilwaco, Wash., will mark the grand opening of Seaport Landing on July 3 and 4. Last March, GHHSA purchased 24 acres of riverfront property in Aberdeen, Wash., to convert into a tourism destination and tall ship maintenance facility. Many in Aberdeen are hoping Seaport Landing will spark an economic renaissance in the city and surrounding towns, which suffer some of the highest unemployment rates in the region. The organization is just starting to plan for Seaport Landing’s future, but if all goes well, Aberdeen could have a world-class facility drawing thousands of people from around the globe. (Full disclosure: I’m communications director for GHHSA.)

What maritime celebrations or festivals will you attend this summer?

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