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    Sunday, October 02, 2022

    New London welcomes Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival Friday through Sunday

    The U.S. Coast Guard barque Eagle docked at City Pier. (Contributed)
    Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival expands focus

    This year's edition of the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival is one of those events that reminds you of that Thanksgiving image of a cornucopia. You know: that giant conical straw basket, so full of varieties of goodness that they spill out in a vision of plentifulness.

    Taking place Friday through Sunday on New London's waterfront and in downtown, the festival has expanded its usual focus with a theme of "Rivers, Sound & Sea" — and with special attention given to the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Groton Heights and the burning of New London. The ambitious nature of the event is due in part to the vision of the organization, and annual grants from the state's office of economic and community development and office of tourism have helped enable the group to move forward, says festival chairman Elenaor Mariani.

    Of course, there will be plenty of ships and boats on hand including the United State Coast Guard Barque Eagle, Mystic Seaport's Roann, the United States Maritime Administration's King's Pointer, a U.S. Navy Submarine Base harbor patrol boat, the USCGA Ida Lewis navigation/search and rescue ship our of Newport, and more.

    The festival starts with a concert Friday in the Hygienic Art Park featuring blues-rock band the Lone Wolf Trio, then continues through the weekend with the festival's most ambitious program ever. A full schedule of events is below.

    "The idea of celebrating rivers and sea gives us more flexibility and the ability to embrace roots we might not have traditionally reached," Mariani ays. "There are a lot of organizations participating you might not have seen in the past. Save the Sound will be there with demonstrations on lobster traps and what effect they can have. Deep Fisheries will participate, and you can actually take a class and provide reels so people can fish. And New England Science and Sailing will be on hand and taking boats out.

    "So there are educational, ecological and historical aspects represented as well as family fun, music, and plenty of participatory things to do."

    Mariani also says efforts have been made to reach out to museums and other organizations to take part. "Some of them will be here," she says. "A lot are interested but faced with staffing issues because of COVID, but this is something we're doing with a long term focus. We absolutely do this festival out of love, and we know there are a lot of people and organizations across the state that feel as passionately as we do. All of us want to convey the heritage in an educational and fun way to people who are already interested as well as newcomers — and to a younger generation, as well."

    Regarding the latter aspect, Mariani says efforts are underway to arrange for buses to and from Mitchell College and Connecticut College so students can attend.

    The historical commemorations are something Mariani says the festival is particularly proud of. "For the 240th anniversary of the burning of New London and the Battle of Groton Heights, we've brought in historical reenactors to help explain the events dramatically and in an entertaining way.

    "It's also been 20 years since 9/11 changed the world," Mariani says. "Our first event Saturday will take place at the exact moment the plane hit the first tower, and we have a presentation from the Navy and the Coast Guard that is very moving. They've been working on this ceremony for months and they've done an incredible job. I hope the public will be there. It's a solemn and respectful way to start the festival, and the whole weekend should build on that."

    A note about safety precautions. The fest will be following federal and city protocols for COVID-19. Because the event is outside, masks are not currently required. Anyone is free to wear a mask as they wish and it's recommended to have one at the ready. As for masks onboard vesses, it's up to the discretion of personnel on each vessel at the time of the festival whether one will be required to board.

    If developments dictate changes in some of the events, live videos will be available online — but only in the event of a change in protocol. Folks can also go online at the festival website to see videos of last year's festival, which was restricted due to the pandemic.

    Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival, 6-8 p.m. Fri., 8:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Sat., 8:30 p.m.-5 p.m/ Sun., New London Waterfront Park and locations downtown (see schedule); free; ctmaritimefest.com.

    CONNECTICUT MARITIME HERITAGE FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

    Friday

    7-9 p.m. — Festival kick-off concert with TheLone Wolf Trio (Hygienic Art Park)

    Saturday

    8:30 a.m. — Memorial 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony led by U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard (City Pier)

    9:30 a.m. — Groton Long Point Fireboat water display

    9:45 a.m. — USCG flyover ICW ending elements of 9/11 Commemoration

    10 a.m. — SAR (synthetic aperture radar) demonstration in vicinity of City Pier

    10 a.m.-4 p.m. — Ships available for tour incuding USCGC Eagle. Kings Pointer, USCGC Ida Lewis, Navy support vessels

    10 a.m.-4 p.m. — Navy diving demonstrations

    11 a.m.-4 p.m. — Food trucks and vednors including Sixpenny Oyster

    11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. — Kids Events hosted by New London Youth Affairs and Niantic Children's Museum

    11 a.m. — Children's authors read

    11:30 a.m.–4 p.m. — Project Oceanology Touch Tank (City Pier)

    11 a.m.-4 p.m. — Sailing opportunities with New England Science and Sailing

    Noon-12:45 p.m. — Steve Elci and Friends (City Pier)

    Noon-3:00 p.m. — Pirates (New London Waterfront Park)

    12:30-3:30 p.m. — DEEP Fisheries Fishing Clinic (Custom House Pier)

    1–3 p.m. — Hoola Hooper (New London Waterfront Park)

    1:30-2:30 p.m. — Ancient Mariners (New London Waterfront Park)

    4-7 p.m. — Whimsically Tipsy Mobile Pub (City Pier)

    4-7 p.m. — Tom Petty Tribute Band (City Pier)

    Sunday

    8:30 a.m. — Roann arrive from Mystic

    10 a.m.-4 p.m. — Events:

    Ships available for tours and booths/activities on the Waterfront

    Custom House Maritime Museum (programming at Custom House)

    DEEP Boating Division – Soundkeeper (Saturday and Sunday)

    United States Coast Guard Museum

    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy – Kings Pointer and other smaller boats manned by cadets

    Naval History + Heritage Command/ New London Sailors

    Navy Diving Demos

    11 a.m.-4 p.m. — Artisans Market Place (Golden Street)

    11 a.m. — Skirmishes by 2nd Continental Light Dragoons (Parade Plaza)

    1–1:30 p.m. — "Benedict Arnold" arrives at NL by water taxi, 2nd Continental Light Dragoons retreat

    1:30-2:30 p.m. — Light Dragoons walk New London Waterfront Park, Major General Benedict Arnold has historical display of weapons (covered area near landing)

    2–3 p.m. — Sea Shanties with Marc Bernier

    3-5 p.m. — Rock band Melaena

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