Sep 13, 2013
08:16 AM
Arts & Entertainment

Connecticut Schooner Festival to Light Up New London Tonight, All Weekend

Connecticut Schooner Festival to Light Up New London Tonight, All Weekend

An image of schooners flying over the water from the Connecticut Schooner Festival website.

The Connecticut Schooner Festival, which moves from Mystic to New London today, formally launches there tonight with a lighted board parade along New London’s historic waterfront—and over the course of the weekend it will feature a chowder competition, a schooner race, and entertainment whose centerpiece is New London’s Flock Theatre presenting a unique street pageant called “The Burning in Effigy of Benedict Arnold.”

All area boaters are welcome to participate in the parade, which departs the Thames Yacht Club at 8:30 p.m., and will make a loop from the Thames Yacht Club to New London’s City Pier and back, according to a release on the festival, which explains all the details.

Sponsored by New London Harbour Towers, the parade along New London’s historic waterfront will be led by a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel, and all participating vessels should rendezvous between Thames Yacht Club and the west side of the channel.  There is no fee to participate, but voluntary donations are being accepted for the Charles W. Morgan restoration fund. All interested boaters should contact their local marina for registration information.

The WNLC Classic 98.7 Connecticut Schooner Festival celebrates the state’s maritime heritage, history and spirit of innovation. The five-day festival began when the schooners arrived at Mystic Seaport Wednesday, and the festival continued yesterday with a dockside education program for Connecticut students.

Today, the schooner fleet heads to the New London waterfront, and the launch there is tonight’s after-dark parade. 

Most of the New London activities will take place on the waterfront near City Pier, but a “Made in Connecticut” expo, featuring Connecticut-made products, will take place there was well. The entertaiment programming that features “The Burning in Effigy of Benedict Arnold” will include, among other offerings, an appearance by the Ancient Mariners fife and drum corps of Pawcatuck, Connecticut.

When the schooner festival arrives in New London today, the ship captains will be honored at the United States Coast Guard Academy, with the corps of cadets marching in a Regimental Review. The public will also be treated to entertainment, including music on the waterfront, and a host of other activities including sand sculpting and Kidsploration with Steve Elci and Friends and a large color board for budding young artists.

Then, on Saturday, New London’s restaurants will engage in the chowder competition from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with visitors getting to vote for their favorites. A schooner race along Fisher’s Island Sound will also begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday with prime viewing from New London’s Ocean Beach Park and the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point Campus in Groton.  The plein air painting competition will conclude at 2 p.m. on Saturday after two days of painting throughout the New London and Mystic waterfront area. In addition, Saturday’s festivities include an awards dinner at 6:00pm at Ocean Beach Park’s Port ‘N’ Starboard gourmet banquet facility to recognize the winners of the schooner race.

Also, some of the education partners for the CT Schooner Festival will have displays of their marine science programs set up on the waterfront on Saturday. The education partners for the CT Schooner Festival include: UCONN, Avery Point; LEARN, and the local school districts in:  Stonington, Groton, New London, Waterford, East Lyme, Ledyard, Montville as well as the Fisher’s Island school system.  Also, Mystic Seaport, Connecticut River Museum, Marine Science Magnet School of Southeastern Connecticut, Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin College, Schooner Inc. – New Haven, Sound Waters – Stamford.

The Connecticut Schooner Festival will finish on Sunday, as the ships form a parade of sail and head down the Thames River to close out the event. There is no charge to visit the festival, and a complete schedule of activities is available at CTSchoonerFest.com.

Participating schooners include:

 

 

  • Virginia, a 121-foot wooden replica of its original twentieth century pilot vessel which sailed in the Chesapeake Bay from 1917 to 1926. Homeport: Norfolk, VA.
  • Sophia Christina, a 62-foot wooden vessel modeled after an 1870's Boston pilot schooner. Homeport: Weekapaug, RI.
  • Mary E, a 75-foot authentic clipper built in 1906. Homeport: Essex, CT.
  • Mystic, a 170-foot three-masted square topsail schooner built and launched in 2007. Homeport: Mystic, CT.
  • Adventurer, built in 1925 in Mystic, CT, has sailed in Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race and prizes in Provincetown Great Schooner Regatta. Homeport: Norwalk, CT.
  • Brilliant, Mystic Seaport’s prize-winning 64-foot schooner described by Wooden Boat magazine as one of the 100 most beautiful classic boats in existence. Homeport: Mystic, CT.
  • Equinox; a racing rig Muscongus Bay Schooner, owned by Mathew Otto and built by Ralph Stanley in Southwest Harbor Maine, 1983-1984, 28-feet in length on deck with a spar length of about 40-feet, moored in North Basin above Mystic Seaport. Homeport: Mystic, CT.
  • Irena, a Tom Colvin Gazelle model 42' schooner, built of steel in Florida in 1984, launched in Seattle in 1986, moved to Waukegan, Illinois, for Great lake sailing. Homeport: Newport, RI.
  • Lelanta, a 1929 custom designed private yacht by Boston designer John G Alden and built of steel by G de Vries Lentsch at Amsterdam, Holland. Homeport: Sag Harbor, NY.
  • Malabar II, a two-masted gaff-rigged schooner designed in 1922 by John Alden in Boston Massachusetts. Homeport: Vineyard Haven, NY.
  • Mystic Whaler, a reproduction of a late 19th century coastal cargo schooner that was designed for the passenger trade by Chubb Crockett of Camden, Maine. Homeport: New London, CT.
  • Niamh, a 42-foot Tom Colvin Saugeen Witch schooner. Homeport: Thimble Island, CT.

Historically, schooners have played an important role in the development of our state and country.  They were hardly strangers in Connecticut waters as the country struggled against the mighty British navy; they hauled cargo, and, sadly, at times slaves. Arguably the most well known of this class, La Amistad, was intercepted in Long Island Sound by a Revenue Cutter ship and escorted into New London, where it remained moored for more than a year behind the federal Customs House which remains in service to this day. In 2000, Mystic Seaport launched the Freedom Schooner Amistad, an approximate replica of the original. Today, her mission is education.

The Connecticut Schooner Festival, a production of OpSail CONNECTICUT, is a celebration of our state's maritime heritage, history and spirit of innovation.  Working with community partners, our purpose is to draw attention to the important role the sea has played in the formation of our state and nation, and to honor the role schooners played in that development. The festival takes place Sept. 11 – 15, starting at Mystic Seaport and moving to the historic city of New London.  Additional information may be found at www.CTschoonerFest.com.

Anyone interested in trying to squeeze in two lighted boat parades this weekend should check out the Riverlights Boat Parade in Milford-Stratford to raise money to fight cancer.

If you're looking for other dining choices in the New London area tonight or beyond, see our Best of Connecticut 2013, or download it as an iPad app. Also make sure to vote in our Readers' Choice: Best Restaurants 2014 survey, which is live online now.

 

Connecticut Schooner Festival to Light Up New London Tonight, All Weekend

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