Saturday, June 3, 2017, PortSide NewYork offered TankerTours of the ship MARY A. WHALEN on the occasion of her 79th birthday (on May 21) and the first weekend of NYC Ferry service in Red Hook (another joy, as we advocated for years for a Red Hook commuter ferry).
We interrupted tours around noon to receive a great honor when Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez presented us with a framed Congressional Record. She read this proclamation on the House floor, and it is entered into the Library of Congress. It speaks to the importance of the historic ship MARY A. WHALEN.
Nydia followed the reading of the Record with some extemporaneous remarks about her admiration for PortSide's programs and how our founder and President Carolina Salguero is a "luchadora" (or fighter, which is Nydia's own nickname) and the Red Hook community is lucky to have her. Councilman Carlos Menchaca followed up with praise for PortSide's work.
People in Atlantic Basin and out on Van Brunt Street were greeted by our maritime characters Admiral Nelson (sometimes Frank Hanavan, who created the costume, and sometimes Harold Boynes) and Arsenio Martinez as schooner PIONEER (in a costume created by Hanavan).
TankerTours were enjoyed by about 150 people including families, joggers, riders of the NYC Ferry, tourists from Minnesota and the Netherlands, and one dog. Others included:
- 1st visit by former MARY A. WHALEN engineer George Doumar!
- a Red Hook librarian
- W. Scott McCabe, who was on one of last Navy vessels hauled out in NY Shipyard (former Todd Shipyard), from Maryland
- SUNY Maritime IT staffer
- 3 women conductors from MetroNorth
- a first-time visitor who heard Nydia’s remarks and was choked up with emotion
- a worker from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel Sandy recovery job
Some exchanges of note:
Two couples and one babe from the Netherlands speaking to Ellie at our reception table:
Man: We are so excited to see this! We came to Red Hook to see the Barge Museum, and now we are getting to see this also, just getting off the ferry! We didn't know!
Ellie: Well, pretty much any place you have to get to by water is a good place.
Man: Yes, we love the water.
Ellie: Where are you from?
Ellie: Oh! No wonder! Now that city, I've heard, has a great relationship with its waterways. Not so much New York, for many decades. Only now is it waking up to what it has.
Man: Yes, we LOVE water there. Don't worry— New York is learning.
* * *
Very little boy (around 3) with very big sunglasses, pointing here and there and at the reception table:
Look, a big red hook! And look, a red hook, and a red hook, and another red hook!
Ellie: And where ARE we?
Boy: In Red Hook, yay!
Tours continued over the afternoon with attendance picking up as a huge (6,000 people!) queue began to assemble for the Brooklyn Pop-up picnic in the Cruise Terminal. All attendees in that event wear white which meant that more and more of our visitors wore white. A Mister Softee truck showed up, and the scene was complete!