By Seth Daniel
Plans for the Charlestown Navy Yard are taking shape for the Sail Boston 2017 extravaganza, with the bulk of activities in Charlestown taking place on Saturday, June 17, and Sunday, June 18 – activities that include music, food, prime viewing of the tall ships and loads of family activities.
Since having a public meeting for the Town last month, which was well attended, plans have firmed up on the numbers of ships that are going to be landing in the Navy Yard. In addition, fun activities to accompany the ships over the June 17 and 18 weekend are also taking shape, with good opportunities for local business and great music and activities planned for both days.
The Sail Boston event will last through Wednesday, June 21, but activities during the week will be limited mostly to the open ships in port – the lone exception being a fun Sunset Salute on the Coast Guard ship Eagle Tuesday night, June 20.
“Things are really starting to come together,” said Michael Creasey, general superintendent for the National Parks of Boston (and a Charlestown resident). “It’s good news. Last month, we had one ship coming to Charlestown and now we have a whole series of ships coming here. It should be a great way of activating Pier 1, Pier 4, Pier 6 and Pier 8.”
Dick Mulligan of the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) said this was an excellent opportunity to introduce new people to the Navy Yard and to see what it’s full programatic potential might be.
“This is going to be the best, family-friendly place to be for Sail Boston,” he said. “The Yard is going to be a great place to relax and spread out at Shipyard Park. The Navy Yard is a predictable public space and it’s wide open…It’s a great activation of the Yard. It will be a great activity for the neighborhood – from the residents to the National Parks to the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce. I’m positive this is going to be a great event for the Navy Yard.”
The ships now scheduled for the Yard are mostly Class B and C vessels, but will be fun to visit. They include:
- Hindu, Pier 6
- Redbird, Pier 6
- Geronimo, Pier 6
- Green Dragon, Pier 6
- Brilliant, Pier 6
- Bloodhound, Pier 6
- Halie & Matthew, Pier 6
- Angelique, Pier 4
- American Eagle, Pier 4
- Spirit of South Carolina, Pier 4
- Harvey Gamage, Pier 4
- Shenandoah, Pier 4
- USCGC Eagle, Pier 1
- Impossible Dream (handicapped accessible boat), Pier 8
The opening ceremonies will begin around 10 a.m. on June 17, and a U.S. Navy jet flyover will go over Charlestown twice, once at 10:15 a.m. and once at 10:20 a.m. The Eagle will lead the 56 ships into the Harbor, and prime viewing will take place from several vantage points in the Navy Yard around 11 a.m. – when the Eagle is expected to sail past the Navy Yard and begin the Parade of Sail. By noon, that should conclude and the Eagle and the ships being moored at the Navy Yard will begin their arrival and welcome to the Town.
However, before any of that can happen, a daunting security regimen has been devised, with the Yard being closed off starting at 6:30 a.m. from 5th Street to 9th Street. Prime viewing areas inside the security zone will be first come, first serve and there will be no bleachers or tickets required. The security procedures will include numerous restricted items, including suitcases, alcohol and pets – among a long list of other items.
That security regiment will only be in place on June 17, from about 6:30 a.m. until about 12:30 p.m.
Lois Siegelman, president of the Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard, said the organizers and National Parks need to begin flooding residents with information about what is happening and what they can and cannot do on June 17.
“People want to enjoy this, and they want to have parties and watch the ships,” she said. “They need to have more information about what they and their guests can and cannot do on June 17.”
What they will be able to do is relax all day in the Yard, with scores of bands scheduled to play on a stage – bands that reflect the diversity of the ships in the Yard. They will have everything from Irish music, to Australian music to Caribbean music to African music.
There will also be food trucks, Decco Restaurant will have an expanded tent serving beer and wine, and there will be a Family Engagement Zone on Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ships will open for touring on June 17 at 4 p.m.
An all ages public swing dance in the Navy Yard will take place Saturday night, June 17, at 6 p.m. with lessons beforehand and the music of Baby Soda playing – a six piece jazz band. Everyone is encouraged to come in 1940s attire and dance the evening away on the Piers.
Throughout the week, ships in the Yard will be open for public viewing from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the captain’s discretion.
On Monday, some 400 Boston Public School students are going to be coming to the Yard for personal tours of the ships. Later that day, a junior crew party will take place for military crew members only on the Commandant’s Lawn. Then, on Tuesday, the Yard will host its Sunset Salute on Pier 1 at 7:30 p.m. The marching and music event will include William Diamond Jr. Fife & Drum, Irish American Police Officers Assoc. Pipes & Drums, Constitution Color Guard, Lexington Minutemen, U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Flag Bearers and singing Sgt. Dan Clark.
That will also coincide with the Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard’s Summer Solstice party in the Shipyard Park.
Ships are scheduled to leave early in the morning on Thursday, June 22.
The Charlestown Chamber is very involved, said Kim Mahoney and Rebecca Kaiser. An RFP from the BPDA is ready to go out for restaurants in the area to be able to serve food within the secure zone on June 17.
The details of that, they said, are still being worked out and they are also gauging interest from local establishments.
Creasey said it’s going to be an excellent test for collaboration and working together, noting that if all goes well it could just be the beginning of more Navy Yard celebrations.
“Our intention has been to not just make this a National Parks event, but to make it a community event,” he said. “From this landscape, we have a very special opportunity to do great things,” he said. “Maybe it will turn out that we can do more great things without needing 56 ships from 13 countries to come in. We hope this event is just the beginning and it’s something we can do again in the future.”