Volume 22, Number 18 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | September 11 - 17, 2009

Midnight ferries coming as crowds swarm Governors Isle

Though it was a national holiday, Governors Island was hard at work this Labor Day weekend. For the three-day stretch from Friday to Sunday, a record-setting 25,000 people visited the island.

The island’s big crowds were not just noticed on the island – at one point on Sunday afternoon, there were close to 1,000 people waiting outside the Battery Maritime Building to take the free ferry.

“We’re thrilled that Governors Island has become such a wonderful resource for Lower Manhattan and for other people in the region,” Leslie Koch, president of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, told Downtown Express. “We’re pleased that people are enjoying such a broad array of activities on the island.”

Last weekend, visitors to the island witnessed the NYC Pro Swim, the island’s first professional open water swim competition; the second annual 4heads Art Fair opened on Saturday with over 150 artists and galleries; and on Sunday, the island hosted the Run to Remember, a fundraiser run/walk in honor of the victims of 9/11.

The art festival will continue every weekend until Sept. 27 The major festivities, however, will begin this weekend. As part of the NY400 festival in celebration of Henry Hudson’s voyage to America, the next two weekends will host the “New Island Festival.” Stocked with hundreds of Dutch performing artists, visual art, and D.J. sets, the festival will continue for the next two weekends.

Harbor Day, the culmination of NY400 week, will also take place this weekend. The Prince of Orange and Princess Maxima will be present at the opening ceremony in Battery Park Sunday, where they will lead a bicycle tour. From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. that day, the Holland on the Hudson flotilla will sail, featuring a replica of Hudson’s own Half Moon, “Flying Dutchman” sailboats, and other vessels. Visitors can watch the flotilla and a sailing race on video screens in Battery Park, which will host the awards ceremony for the winners of the sailboat race. Throughout the day, NY400 bikes will be available for free rental.

For the duration of the festival, Governors Island will offer ferry service at night, for the first time since it opened to the public. Ferries are free, and will be available for the next two weeks from Thursday to Saturday until midnight to accommodate the New Island Festival events. Ferries will run every 20 minutes at night. Despite the heavy traffic to the island last weekend, Koch added that the ferries are prepared for increased usage, and said that lines were moving quickly.


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