Mystic Seaport plans nine-day celebration to mark Morgan's 1941 arrival

Mystic - It was 70 years ago that the future symbol of Mystic Seaport was towed up the Mystic River and took its place along the museum waterfront.

Since that day in November of 1941, the museum estimates more than 20 million people have toured the deck of the Charles W. Morgan, a National Historic Landmark and the country's last surviving wooden whaling ship.

Now the museum and a committee of residents and businesses will throw a nine-day celebration from Oct. 28 to Nov. 5 to mark the ship's arrival. Among the events will be concerts and performances, historical talks, an antique vehicle show and a fireworks display.

"The Charles W. Morgan is not the sole property of Mystic Seaport. She belongs to the American people," said museum president Stephen C. White "We see this community event as a way to celebrate not just the ship, but also the spirit of adventure, exploration, and American enterprise she represents for all of us."

The celebration is scheduled to begin on Oct. 28 with a free fireworks display over the Mystic River sponsored by the Mohegan Sun. The museum grounds will open beginning at 8 p.m.

On Nov. 5 there will be free admission to the museum as the celebration will conclude with a day of Morgan-related activities, demonstrations, and a 1 p.m. ceremony with comments from Connecticut dignitaries and historian Nathaniel Philbrick, the author of "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex."

That evening at 6:30 in the museum shipyard there will be a live performance of "Prince of Whalers," a dramatic telling of whaling and the Morgan. The performance stars Brian Dennehy, Joe Grifasi, and Linda Hart. Tickets are $125, $250, and $500 and proceeds will go to support the Morgan. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.mysticseaport.org/princeofwhalers or call (860) 572-5322.

Helping organize a slate of Morgan activities all week in and around downtown Mystic is a committee of local merchants, professionals, and residents called Sail the Morgan 2014, which is trying to raise $1.5 million for the ongoing restoration of the ship and to generate enthusiasm for plans to sail it once the work is done.

Some of the activities include Mystic Restaurant Week, a series of concerts in Mystic River Park, strolling musicians, a display of pre-1941 vehicles on Cottrell Street and lantern lighting along the river on Oct. 29. A talk by local historian Bill Peterson on the history of Mystic and the Morgan will be held Nov. 2 at the Mystic Arts Center at a time to be announced.

"Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Morgan's arrival presents us with an extraordinary opportunity to bring the community together in shared activities. Fireworks at Mystic Seaport, lantern lighting on the river, music in the park, the restaurants and stores participating in special promotions," said committee co-chairwoman Melinda Carlisle.

More information on the week's schedule of events can be found at www.sailthemorgan.org and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/Sail-the-Morgan/242371745814102) beginning Oct. 11.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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