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BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | Lest New Yorkers forget that this city is an archipelago comprised of dozens of islands, Superstorm Sandy was a reminder. New York has 520 miles of coastline. Most New Yorkers live near the water but ignore it much of the time.
For the sixth year, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance — a consortium of more than 730 civic organizations and businesses with ties to the regional waterways — is staging City of Water Day to bring New Yorkers to the water. There will be plenty to enjoy and also a lot to think about.
This year, City of Water Day is scheduled for Saturday, July 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Most events take place on Governors Island or in Liberty State Park in New Jersey.
The agenda includes free boat tours on sailboats, ferries, a tugboat and a fireboat, some with narration. Riders will be able to learn about the life of a merchant mariner, the history of fireboats and what has happened and is happening on Newtown Creek, the site of one of the largest underground oil spills in the world. They will be able to experience New York harbor’s wildlife on a New York City Audubon Society eco-cruise aboard a Circle Line ferry. On a New York Waterway ferry, they will be able to learn about the commercial side of the harbor.
There will be opportunities to acquire rowing and kayaking skills, to look at train models showing shipping and travel across the harbor and to browse hundreds of tables set up by Alliance Partners with activities, materials and information about their work.
Resilience Roundtables, mini-conferences at Governors Island from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and in Liberty State Park from noon to 1:30 p.m. will feature distinguished harbor stakeholders and agency representatives such as Col. Paul Owen, Commander, Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, who will describe critical waterfront work post-Sandy.
Kids will be able to experiment with mini solar racecars and other environmental projects. They will also be able to participate in a Disney TRYathlon Road Tour — a competition that tests skills, fosters teamwork and offers athletic challenges.
One of the most unusual events will be a cardboard kayak race. Teams of up to six people will have two hours to design and build a kayak from 10 sheets of corrugated cardboard for each boat. The teams will also be given 10 rolls of clear, waterproof packing tape to work with and three rolls of black gaffing tape.
The race will begin at 2:15 p.m. on Governors Island at Pier 101. According to the rules, “If your boat disintegrates, your team is out.”
For more information about City of Water Day and to sign up for free boat tours, go to www.cityofwaterday.org.