Greenport Mayor George Hubbard shakes hands with Judi Kilachand, executive director of the Friends of Hermione-LaFayette in America. (Credit: Paul Squire)
Greenport’s Tall Ships Challenge is back — and now officially bigger than ever.
Village leaders, other local politicians and businesspeople kicked off the hype for the upcoming event Tuesday afternoon, officially announcing the six ships that will dock in the village’s harbor this Fourth of July.
Among them is the Hermoine, a historical replica ship modeled after the vessel used by the Marquis de Lafayette in the Revolutionary War.
That ship, which just left France en route to America for its summer tour, is a new addition to the event. Other ships include Kalmar Nyckel, Lynx, Picton Castle, AJ Meerwald and the NRP Sangres III.
The festival will be held from July 4 through 7.
Tickets are now available online and are being offered at a discounted price until June 22.
In a press conference Tuesday, Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard touted the benefits of the upcoming four-day festival.
“We’re real excited about the whole program,” Mr. Hubbard said. “Greenport is ideal for this kind of thing and it’s really nice to be having these ships come back and join us.”
Mr. Hubbard thanked the village’s Business Improvement District — which has committed to raising more than $100,000 for the event — as well as the Tall Ships planning committee and, specifically, former mayor David Nyce.
Mr. Hubbard said the village expects to have between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors for each day of the festival.
County Executive Steve Bellone called Greenport a model for how other downtown areas across Suffolk County can “redefine and reinvent” themselves.
“Greenport is a really important place for us,” Mr. Bellone said. “It’s a wonderful historic maritime community.”
Mr. Bellone didn’t attend the last Tall Ships event in Greenport (he later remarked that his son had just been born at the time). But this year, Mr. Bellone said he won’t miss the festival.
“I’m looking forward to bringing my kids here,” he said.
To help accommodate the flood of tourists, the Long Island Railroad has agreed to run extra trains out to Greenport. Mr. Bellone said the county is exploring other ways to increase public transit.
The event will be a chance to showcase Greenport, the “crown jewel of the East End,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell.
Peter Clarke, the Greenport BID president, said the organization has already raised more than $70,000 of its more than $100,000 sponsorship goal.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity to promote Greenport beyond New York State,” he said.
The sponsors for the event so far include Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., WABC-TV, Eastern Long Island Hospital, Newsday and Peconic Landing. The Suffolk Times is also sponsoring the event.
“This event showcases the beauty and culture that Greenport has to offer, putting its deep maritime history on display,” said Peconic Landing CEO Robert Syron. “We welcome visitors to come see what makes living on the North Fork so distinct.”
The press conference also featured a speech from Judi Kilachand, executive director of the Friends of Hermione-LaFayette in America, a nonprofit group that constructed the replica.
Ms. Kilachand said Greenport was a “beautiful” location to host the Hermione, symbolically reaffirming a “longtime friendship between France and the United States.”