BOSTON (CBS) — Sail Boston’s opening ceremony was Friday and the tall ships will cruise Boston Harbor for the first time since 2000.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says the event is a great opportunity for the city to show off its history.
“Sail Boston is also a chance for people in Boston to experience our city’s rich maritime history. As we welcome ships from all over the world, we’ll get a glimpse of what Boston Harbor looked like centuries ago,” Walsh said. “We’re excited to welcome people from all over the world to our city. I want to call on the people of Boston to make them feel welcome.”
On a lighter side the mayor said if anyone is giving directions to someone from out of town, to speak slowly and pronounce the “r’s” at the end of the words.
David Balfour handles operations and ceremonies for Sail Boston and he says with all of the planning, it’s time for the ships and the Grand Parade of Sails Saturday.
“It’ll be the first time since 2,000 that we’ve had a Grand Parade of Sails in the harbor. We have 54 ships from over 14 countries.
Balfour says there will be a big crowds to take in the splendor of the tall ships.
“It’s not like in Europe where they might see them more often, but you don’t get that here. And the majesty of these large ships particularly in the 300 foot range, it’s a sight to see,” Balfour said.
Business owners and managers are hoping that the large crowds coming to see the ships for the next week will bring big business.
Katy Gorman is General Manager at Tia’s on the Waterfront and she says Sail Boston is a big draw.
“It’s just crazy, wall-to-wall people but it’s a lot of fun and a lot of excitement,” Gorman said. She adds that one of the benefits of working on the waterfront is that you don’t have to go far to see the ships.
The official viewing platform for the parade of ships is the U.S.S. Whidbey Island that docked yesterday.
For some of the 400 sailors on board, it’s an adventure. For some it’s a homecoming.
One of those who’s having a homecoming is Jonathan Rhodes of West Bridgewater. He’s been in the navy three-and-a-half years and it’s the first time he’s been home since he’s been on duty.
“It’s great. It’s almost a free trip back home to see family and friends,” Rhodes says.
He says he’s also going to be a “tour guide” for his shipmates.
“They say, ‘Where do I go?’ and ‘What do I see?'” he said. He said he told them to definitely check out the Freedom Trail and Faneuil Hall.
Rhodes says it’s kind of weird pulling into home on a navy ship.
“Pulling into here it’s weird seeing it from this angle, pulling in from the water,” he said.
Master Chief Brett Minnie is from Minnesota and he’s been around the world in his 25 years in the navy. He says it’s exciting to pull into any American city.
“Our ability to go to different ports in our own country is kind of small, so it’s a rare opportunity. We all know we go to different foreign ports, and coming to one of our own ports, we’re excited,” Minnie said.
The public is invited to see the Whidbey Island at the North Jetty Pier from 3 to 5 after the Parade of Sails Saturday.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports