Yesterday morning I shook the kids out of bed with a psssst....hey, wake up, let's go see some pirate ships! (Tall Ship Celebration) We left home at 10 am and got to the free parking lot at 11:30. It was an easy drive and for a festival that I've been talking about trying to get to for years, I then wondered how I didn't happen to go sooner.
I had studied the online brochure, faq's and facebook page up, down, left and right the night before in order to hopefully make the best choices. We had decided to meet up with our friends (Greta and Hannah) on the west side of the river - at Veteran's Memorial Park - because it clearly stated that the Arts and Crafts ran from Thursday through Sunday. However, they did not. The Arts and Crafts run from Friday to Sunday, so we were a little disappointed about that - my kids had their money in their baggies and had been looking forward to spending it on pirate inspired art. Alas.
Waiting for the ships to come in was a little bit like waiting for fireworks, but we were blessed with beautiful weather. The humidity had finally broke Wednesday evening. I kept exclaiming, wow - what a beautiful day.
We passed the waiting time by sipping lemonade, blowing bubbles (our friend Hannah), games of Simon says and I spy....
...and watching Shorty do some juggling tricks. I missed the shots of him letting the boys run through his legs.
Mark, when sharing with dad after we got home: And we met this really tall guy, and his mom did name him SHORTY when he was a baby!
click on any of the photos for a better view
Finally we saw the tall ships coming on the horizon.
The other side of the river looked a lot busier than our side. They had a band playing from over there, and because the water was more shallow on our side, all the tallest ships parked on that side. We felt our side was a good choice for us - we had a good view and it was quieter.
When the first ship came in, there were cannons fired which had one of my kids screaming. I put down my camera and looked at Wendy while saying, seriously??? She scoffed. That wasn't me...that was BRIAN.
Brian just shrugged. I wasn't expecting it, he explained.
It was definitely an obvious way of separating the newbies in the crowd (us) from the veterans. We knew to expect it each time after that first one. Each ship got four welcoming cannon blasts from the shore, and some of the ships fired as well.
The wind had really picked up to the point that my little boys were shivering, and I'm guessing it also had something to do with why all the ships weren't able to come in full sail.
The size of the ships was wondrous.
There was a little bit of excitement when that front ship started pulling in to our side - there was yelling, and yelling, for them to come in shallow, for had they continued on the path in this picture, it would have been a bit of a disaster. apparently. judging by the guy that was yelling next to my good ear.
The program had given a 1:00 estimate for when the ships would start arriving, and we saw the first ship at 1:39. There was a long delay between the first three ships and the next bunch, partially because of an accident on the tow bridge that required a tow truck. It was 2:49 when the next batch came through and still another wait before the last of them. We watched the second batch, then we took the public transport back over to the other side.
Our friend had gone home by this point - it was her first time too, so it was fun to learn a bit more about the festival with a partner.
My kids were just as excited about the buses as they were about the ships.
Now on the other side, a different view and perspective. It was definitely more crowded and active, and I spent a little more time counting my kid's heads. One, two, three...one, two, three....one, two, three...
What I liked about the east side was being able to get so close to the tall ships. This was fun to watch - they did a count and then pulled and rolled that sail.
Back on the free transportation once again and back to the GM Powertrain Plant (free parking) to our vehicle and back home. The kids were starving and done. I was thinking I'd love to go back again with just my husband on a weekend date. The shops around town looked very inviting as well.
But - for this day, it was time to get home.
There was ballooning, afterall. We got home from the festival at 6:15 - I quick emptied the van, changed into ballooning pants and boots, gave my husband a fast review of the festival and booked back out the door.
We had lots of help last night.
And it was good.