From the opening 10 a.m. ceremony onward, crowds flowed into downtown Greenport via train, boat and automobile for the Tall Ships festival on Saturday.
The festival coincides with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 this year. officials say they believe an armada of historic replica will attract up to 50,000 visitors to the village this Memorial Day Weekend.
Saturday morning, Vietnam veteran John Iannone was visiting the festival from East Moriches. He and his family took a short tour of a replica of the HMS Bounty — built for the 1962 movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” with Marlon Brando, now used as an educational vessel — and one of the most popular ships at the festival.
“I was very impressed,” Iannone said. “This is one of the biggest of the biggest and it’s got a lot of history to it.”
Greenport is the second port to host the Tall Ships fleet. The Tall Ships Challenge Race Series started in Savannah, Ga. and will continue to Newport, R.I. and then onto Halifax, Nova Scotia. Erin Short, Tall Ships Challenge coordinator said that this trip has been a thrill, from the bigger city and Southern hospitality of Savannah to the more intimate ports like Greenport.
“It’s like the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ comes to town,” she said. “No one is unhappy.”
At the opening ceremony, Greenport Mayor David Nyce was joined by Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter; Suffolk County Legis. Ed Romaine; Greenport Trustees Mary Bess Philips, Chris Kempner, David Murray; Southold Town Councilmen Chris Talbot, Al Krupski, and William Ruland;State Assemblyman Dan Losquadro; Chief Deputy Suffolk County Executive Regina Calcaterra; Southold Town Trustees Dave Bergen, Bob Ghosio, and John Bredemeyer; and Scott Martella, the Suffolk County Representative at the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“We are reminded of Greenport’s maritime roots, we’re reminded of the great ships that sail from this port, and we’re reminded that we’re all kicking off a great summer at a great place,” Romaine said.