Q: I keep hearing the Tall Ships are coming to Greenport July 4th Weekend. What's going on? A: A lot. The July 4th Holiday is being observed on Friday July 3rd, so Greenport will start filling up on Thursday evening. Friday afternoon into Friday evening five of the six Tall Ships will sail into Greenport. There’s a website you can track their actual position, and time their arrival. We’re organizing a small craft regatta to welcome the tall ships, and people will gather on the shore.
We encourage everyone to turn out meet them. When they arrive into port, sometimes the crew positions on the rigging; it’s very festive.
Q: Sounds like a great start, but what happens once the Tall Ships are here?
A: All weekend long people will be able to tour the ships—tickets required, but each ticket is essentially a day pass to all the ships— downtown Greenport will close to cars and our shops and restaurants will turn out their finest.
The East End Seaport Museum will feature a special exhibit on a skirmish of the Hermione off the coast of Long Island, Mitchell Park will host interesting educational and cultural exhibits, and live music will be playing throughout the village, from July 4th through the 7th
On Monday and Tuesday, while the Hermone is here, there will be a special 20’ by 40’ multimedia tent in Mitchell Park, featuring the history of the Hermione and its reconstruction.
Q: Wow! Sounds like a great time. Tell me about the six ships.
A: Well, the first five arrive Friday: the Lynx, the AJ Meerwald, the Picton Castle, the Sagres and the Kalmar Nykel. The Sagres is now based in Portugal, but was built in 1937 by the German Navy. She was captured during WWII. The Picton Castle is from Nova Scotia. She has sailed around the globe five times, and is an award-winning training ship.
The AJ Meerwald is New Jersey’s official Tall Ship, and she’s a restored oyster-dredging schooner originally built in NJ. The Lynx is a replica of a ship from the War of 1812, while the Kalmar Nykel is a replica of a 1648 ship that was the flag ship of colonists arriving in the Delaware Valley. She made four round trips across the Atlantic, more than any other ship from the Colonial Era.
On Monday, the French ship Hermione arrives. It’s the Hermione’s maiden voyage. She’s a replica of the ship General Lafayette sailed to America. She is also touted to be the most authentic tall ship replica ever built.
The fleet is sailing to 11 ports up and down the East Coast; Greenport is proud to be one of them.
Q: Each ship sounds really cool. But why stop in Greenport? Is there any connection between Greenport and the Tall Ships?
A: Yes. Greenport is, and for centuries has been, a commercial port. Southold Town has many families dating to the 1640s and many have seafaring roots.
Way back in the day Greenport was a whaling village. We had a significant shipbuilding industry in the 18th and 19th century, and even today it is home to boat builders, fisherman, and baymen.
In a real way, the Tall Ships are coming to a familiar port. Having the Tall Ships here is organic, a celebration of our local history and heritage.
Tall Ships America is the not for profit that runs these challenges, and their mission is to preserve the lost art of sailing a large ship, and to teach young people how to manoeuver these magnificent crafts. That spirit and mission fits right in with Greenport’s ethos.
Q: Any tips for how to get the most out of the Tall Ships experience?
A: Yes. Buy your tickets at www.GreenportTallShips.com, and avoid waiting in line when you arrive. Again, the tickets are day passes to board all the ships; there will be a daily visitation schedule on three different piers from 10 am 6 pm.
Come by mass transit. The festival is a pedestrian event, with Greenport’s business district closed to cars. We’re working diligently with local and regional government to get extra green transit. LIRR and Hampton Jitney will be running extra trains and buses. You can buy a package deal with the LIRR.
We urge all locals to use transit too; it would be smart to take the S92, or hop on one of the extra LIRR trains. Volunteers are still needed, and that’s a great way to experience the festival. Contact Greenport Village Hall. Sponsorship opportunities still exist as well, and businesses can get in touch with me about that.
Q: You’ve described an overwhelming scene of fun activities; any special events you want to highlight?
A: There’s a Captain’s reception at Brecknock Hall on Friday night, July 3rd, tickets are still available so please contact Peconic Landing for details at 631 477 3800. Saturday morning there will be a welcome ceremony at 9 am in Mitchell Park and the ships will open for visits at 10.
Monday morning there’s a special welcome ceremony for the Hermione at the observation deck in Mitchell Park. Monday evening there will be a special reception for the Hermione. More details on that to come. We have a website where special events will be listed and updated regularly. Check www.GreenportTallShips.com and www.GreenportVillage.com.
Q: How did you get involved in the Tall Ships?
A: The Greenport BID worked closely with Greenport in 2012 to create events around the Memorial Day weekend Tall Ships event. When the Greenport trustees voted unanimously to do it again this year, they enlisted our support for fundraising and for organizing the business district to host the event.
Q: Besides running the BID and helping with Tall Ships, you have your own business, Clarke's Garden and Home.
What could a window shopper discover?
A: Unique décor for the garden and home with an emphasis on outdoor living, with unique plants for indoors and outdoors.
For Tall Ships we’ll be focusing on nautically themed merchandise for the event.
Q: Is there anything that is signature Clarke's Gardens?
A: We specialize in container gardening and like to create interesting mixes of plants and flowers for four season enjoyment.
We’re open seven days a week through the summer season, and open year round except for the month of January.
Q: You’re not from the North Fork originally; how did you get here?
A: I came out one July 4th weekend, fell in love with it, felt like home, started looking for real estate. That was back in 1997.
Q: Maybe some of the Tall Ships visitors will have the same experience. Why the North Fork? What is it that drew you here/keeps you here?
A: I love Greenport because it feels like a real place. It has such a sense of history with a nice mix of people and a pedestrian lifestyle. Just a great, beautiful place to live.