NEW ORLEANS – You could say the U.S. Navy is invading New Orleans this week, with military vessels and tall ships, along with some 3,000 sailors, in the city for events commemorating Navy Week, and kicking off celebrations of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Star Spangled Banner.
For six days beginning Tuesday, the colorful spectacle of ships will be spread on the east bank of the Mississippi River from Erato Street to Upper Poland Avenue. New Orleans was selected to kick off the three-year celebration because of its role in military history.
“The Battle of New Orleans was one of the most significant events in the War of 1812 and was a pivotal event in turning the tide of the war, so it’s a great honor for us to be here in New Orleans and kick off the events here and to return in 2015 to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans,” said Rear Admiral Ann Claire Phillips, commander of the Expeditionary Strike Group Two.
Six large navy vessels will be docked along the Mississippi Riverfront all week and open to tours, along with Class A tall ships from countries around the world. Those colorful ships are large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessels from countries as far-flung as Ecuador and Indonesia, as well as Britain, Canada and France.
The events begin Tuesday afternoon, with the arrival of the USS Wasp, the USS Mitscher and USS DeWert, as well as the tall ships. There will also be a fireworks display along the riverfront Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. It was rescheduled to Wednesday because of Tuesday's rain.
Beginning Wednesday, several of the ships will be open for guided tours, but reservations for some of those tours must be made in advance. Other tall ships will be open to the public all day beginning Wednesday.
On Saturday at 1:30 p.m., the famed Blue Angels will perform a 2 ½ hour air show over Lake Pontchartrain. Organizers expect large crowds for that event, which will feature parking (for a $20 fee) at the University of New Orleans and SUNO campuses, UNO Lakefront Arena. Lakeshore Drive will be closed during the show.