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    Friday, July 19, 2024

    Three-day maritime festival kicks off in New London

    The schooners Mystic Whaler, left, and Spirit of South Carolina pass Ledge Light as they sail up the Thames River in the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival Parade of Sail on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. The vessels will be open for tours tonight, Saturday and Sunday during the festival. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    New London — With the 500-foot U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Ramage dominating the landscape outside Fort Trumbull and a collection of wooden schooners meandering along the city’s waterfront, there was no mistaking the start of this year’s Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival.

    The three-day event kicked off Friday with a parade of sails that started at the iconic Ledge Light and was led by the tug Patricia Ann.

    At about the same time the vessels were making their way to the pier, a ceremony was held at City Pier Plaza to celebrate the graduation of Weapons “A” School of the U.S. Navy Submarine School.

    The festival is considered one of the last events tied to Submarine Century, a yearlong celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton.

    A welcome ceremony at City Pier on Friday included a host of state and local leaders.

    “I can’t think of a more appropriate place to celebrate Connecticut’s maritime heritage than this historic port. And we are very proud in this city of our contribution, from the Revolutionary War on, to our commercial and military maritime heritage,” New London Mayor Michael Passero said.

    Foot traffic was slow Friday afternoon but event organizers said they expected a greater influx of visitors on Saturday, attracted by a host of activities that will include music, educational programs at Waterfront Park, whaleboat races and the Great New London Chowder Challenge, which will feature 20 different cooks serving up dishes.

    The USS Ramage and most of the vessels docked at the pier are open for tours throughout the weekend.

    Sunday morning will feature a Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony at City Pier, an event organized by the Groton Area Chief Petty Officers Association and the Naval Submarine Base.

    On Sunday at midday the Oliver Hazard Perry of Newport — a 200-foot, three-mast training vessel that made an appearance at last year's maritime heritage festival — will tie up at city pier.

    It will leave for a sail training adventure with students from Groton, New London and Ledyard onboard learning various aspects of seamanship, leadership and teambuilding.

    For more details and a full list of activities visit www.ctmaritimefest.com.

    g.smith@theday.com

    The tugboat Patricia Ann leads schooners up the Thames River in the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival Parade of Sail on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. The vessels will be open for tours tonight, Saturday and Sunday during the festival. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Crew members on the schooner Spirit of South Carolina, second mate Anna Sprague and deckhand Vincent Tavani, furl the main sail as they approach the dock following the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival Parade of Sail on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. The vessels will be open for tours tonight, Saturday and Sunday during the festival. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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