Greenport Village plans to host Tall Ships of America event

JUDY AHRENS FILE PHOTO | With tall ships as backdrop, Colin Van Tuyl directs the Greenport Band in Mitchell Park during the 2004 Tall Ships of America's tour.

Tall Ships of America tour is expected to stop in Greenport this Memorial Day weekend and village officials say they are starting “from the ground-up” to prepare for the visit.

In May, the east coast sail will start in Savannah, Ga. and visit Charleston, S.C. before stopping at Greenport Harbor. The tour will then continue onto Newport, R.I. and finish in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The fleet of vessels will race against each other between ports.

This year’s event will also include a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812  between the U.S. and Great Britain.

Village Mayor David Nyce said the village is in negotiations with Tall Ships of America to determine which ships will sail in.

The village is in preliminary contract negotiations with the owners of a few class A vessels, the largest of the tall ships, and is in the process of scheduling fundraisers, he said.

“It’s a work in progress and we’re building from the ground-up, but I think it will be a wonderful kickoff for the summer season,” Mr. Nyce said.

In 2004, when Tall Ships of America last visited Greenport, the village was award a state grant to offset the cost of ship appearance fees.

Since that grant came through the “I Love New York” tourism marketing program that no longer exists, Mr. Nyce said the village is planning on securing sponsors in addition to holding fundraisers in the hope of keeping the event free to the public.

For information on sponsoring or volunteering for the event, contact the Village Clerk’s Office at (631) 477-0248, extension 206.

Here is our previous coverage of the Tall Ships of America event in July 2004:

Calm seas, smooth sailing: Mayor calls ships’ visit big success

GREENPORT—An estimated 50,000 visitors came down by the sea to see the Tall Ships during their stopover in Greenport this week. And that accounts for only those who actually boarded one or more of the ships, as opposed to those who just strolled around the village, according to Mayor Dave Kapell.

Visitors expressed awe at the site of the tall ships, especially when they lit up Greenport Harbor at night.

“I am impressed with how the village can so seamlessly accommodate crowds of this magnitude without becoming overwhelmed,” said the mayor, hailing the newly opened East Pier as a “dream come true.” Walking around the village, he said, he felt as though he had “arrived at a different place, a better place, where Greenport firmly reconnects with its rich marine-industrial tradition.”

Village stores and restaurants were packed with visitors throughout the weekend and, thanks to volunteers, village employees and Southold Police, the event went smoothly, said Mayor Kapell. He also credited the American Sail Training Association and corporate sponsors who financed various events held throughout the event.

“There was a widespread feeling on the streets of happiness bordering on euphoria,” he said.

Greenport Merchants Association president Jeff Colton called it “a proud moment for the village.” He credited the mayor, Trustee Gail Horton who heads the Lady Stirling Committee, and the staff at the East End Seaport Maritime Museum for the hard work it took to make the Tall Ships Challenge a reality.

“It was monumental effort” and they “did a fabulous job,” said Mr. Colton.

The merchants he spoke with were pleased with the numbers of shoppers who visited their stores, said Mr. Colton.

The activities that can be realized as a result of the new East Pier will have “a major beneficial impact” on efforts to retain and promote the working waterfront, said Mayor Kapell.

The Polish naval training ship Pogoria left Greenport Monday, but the other tall ships remained in the harbor until Wednesday.

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