Hundreds arrive for Navy Week spectacle on Mississippi River

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 17, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 18 at 6:54 AM

WWLTV.com
Email: webteam@wwltv.com | Twitter: @WWLTV

NEW ORLEANS -- There was quite a spectacle on the Mississippi River as ships from around the world converged in New Orleans, and the crowds are expected to keep coming.

Navy Week in New Orleans is kicking off a three-year national commemoration of the War of 1812.

Hundreds of tourists and locals gathered to watch the anticipated ships sailing upriver to kick off Navy Week.

“We came for French Quarter Jazz Fest, and then when I picked up my (magazine), I saw, oh my god, the tall ships are coming for the War of 1812 200th Anniversary,” said New York resident Sharon Brennan. “I was just saying to my husband, they recover from one event and they have another one two days later.”

"New Orleans is the first port visit of 14 port visits, and the reason we're picking New Orleans is because of the significance of the War of 1812 to New Orleans,” said Tim Riegle, a commander in the U.S. Navy.

The Indonesian and Ecuadorian “tall ships,” as they're called, were the first to anchor at the Bienville Street peer, greeted by a cheering crowd taking pictures and waving flags.

“It's my country so I have to be here for them,” said Equador native and New Orleans resident Marco Mhaia.

Mhaia was among the supporters greeting the 257-foot Equadorian ship.

“Oh, memories from my country, so really it's, my heart is 100 percent right now," Mhaia said.

Navy Week is bringing 3,000 sailors and nine ships to New Orleans.

“We'll have tours starting tomorrow - daily from noon to about 5 (p.m.). They will be able to take pictures, talk to sailors, and pretty much have the run of the ship,” said Kevin Jane of the U.S. Navy.

The national non-profit Operations Sail worked with the city and the Navy to make the free event possible.

“(Operations Sail) started these tall ship events in New York, New York City, New York Harbor, and over years as the organization has expanded and grown, we added ports, and this is our first time in New Orleans,” said Chris O’Brien of Operations Sail.

“I live now in Metairie and I'm here because this is a wonderful opportunity to see sailing ships,” said visitor Harold Welsh. “I've only been on one in my whole life."

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