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BY JANEL BLADOW
Sails are being hoisted. Grass is being mowed. And everyone is making Memorial Day weekend plans to kick off summer. Yippee!
FIFTY YEARS OF FUN… And more to come! The South Street Seaport Museum kicked off a year of festivities celebrating 50th birthday on Saturday, April 29, with a tribute to its founders, a look at its progress, and free fun for everyone. A couple hundred people gathered on Pier 17 to celebrate the museum, hear speakers, tour the ships, learn about nautical history, dance to some lively music, and enjoy beautiful spring weather.
Starting with free admission to all the museum’s ships and galleries, the fun ramped up with a special bell-ringing ceremony aboard the lightship Ambrose. Special guest Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer took the honors of chiming the ship’s 110-year-old bronze bell at 1 pm. Honored guests included Councilmember Margaret Chin, Borough President Gale Brewer, and cultural affairs commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, along with trustees, members, friends and volunteers of the South Street Seaport Museum.
While museum director Captain Jonathan Boulware pointed out that it’s “amazing we’re here” since a cloud hung over the museum for two years following 9/11, then came the 2008 recession and then a “damaging blow” from Hurricane Sandy. But the other guests all agreed that it’s the captain’s energy and leadership that will keep the museum thriving into its next 50 years.
After praising Boulware as “captain, my captain” and “an amazing leader,” Van Bramer bounded up the lightship’s gangplank to “one of the greatest honors of my life — ringing this bell.”
“We are absolutely thrilled to be here celebrating our 50th anniversary,” Capt. Boulware told Seaport Report. “The Seaport Museum is reborn. Programs are growing. Funding is in place, at long last, for Sandy repairs, and the magnificent fleet of historic ships is in largely good repair for the first time in decades.”
“It’s a wonderful feeling today,” said Norma Stanford, who came up with the idea of starting a museum to preserve NYC’s maritime history. “The museum is coming back to life because of the ability and vision of Captain Jon.”
Along with her late husband Peter and a small group of rabble-rousers who liked to be called “the old gang,” they created a concept of “not just displays but training ships, not just pretty artifacts but a place to learn skills.”
Jocelyn and Edmund Ho brought their sons Terrence, 9, and Brandon, 8, to tour the ships and learn about the sea. “The event is more than we expected,” Ho said. “We enjoyed exploring the Wavertree. And I learned speediest animal is the falcon, who can fly 200 mph. We’re learning together.”
Terrence Ho said he learned that “captain rhythm” means pulling a rope to have sails go up. “I found that really interesting.”
Music for the afternoon was performed by Valerie and Ben Turner of Piedmont Bluz. “It’s so thrilling to be part of this,” Valerie said while tuning up. “We’ve never played on a pier before. Or on water. Or in front of a ship. It’s a great afternoon.”
HOWDY COWGIRLS… No need to run up to the Village to take in a fun, fantasy drag queen brunch anymore. On the first Saturday of each month — next one is May 6 — Cowgirl Seahorse (259 Front St.) has the party on. The brainy idea of drag queen host Blake Deadly, “Brunch Becomes Her” can cure or cause a hangover and add a few laughs to a weekend afternoon. The special guest this weekend is Candy Sterling, winner of 2016 Miss F.I.T. Drag Pageant. There will be trivia, games, fabulous performances, and a special “Miss Seahorse” audience participation contest. Mimosas are $6 with their regular delish weekend brunch, 2–4 pm. Reservations are recommended.
SHMOOZEFEST… One of the most brilliant ideas recently is the neighborhood happy hour sponsored by the Old Seaport Alliance. It’s a chance for locals to get together, find out what we’re all up to, what are the latest developments in the ‘hood, and maybe make some new friends. The latest was on Wednesday, April 19, at Dorlan’s Tavern & Oyster Bar (213 Front St.). Quite a crowd showed up — from Water Street neighbors to Southbridge friends to Front Street barkeeps and SSSM volunteers. What was supposed to be two hours of cocktails continued long into the evening. The next monthly meet-up isn’t on their calendar yet but check the OSA Facebook page or website for an update. It’s a fun way to get to know the neighbors.
SAVE THE DATE… Get your glam on! The OSA annual fund-raiser on June 6 is now deep in the planning stages. Gala committee chairman Moria Kilgore (Cowgirl Seahorse) says they’ve hired Dish Catering, signed an array of local musicians and DJs and started gathering items for both the silent and live auctions. This year’s fete will be aboard the South Street Seaport Museum’s wonderfully restored flagship Wavertree and will honor its director, Captain Jonathan Boulware, for his service to the community and resilience he’s brought to the museum. The theme is “Blue Seas, White Nights,” and everyone is encouraged to wear white. More than 180 supporters attended last year’s event aboard the Hornblower and they’re hoping to top that. Tickets start at $100 per person with VIP sponsorships getting the added touch of table service. For more details, tickets, donations and more: www.oldseaportny.com.
Please remember to honor those who served on land, air, and sea as you enjoy your Memorial Day.