The Beginning of a Four Year Celebration of the War of 1812
Four years of international events that commemorate this historic and important chapter in American History will kick off in New Orleans April 17th through the 23, 2012. It will include an impressive flotilla of naval ships from several countries all docking alongside the Mississippi River from Jackson Square to the Chalmette Monument where the Battle of New Orleans was fought in 1815 marking the final major battle in the War of 1812. This celebration will recognize the Navy’s part in helping General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans from the British siege. The Navy will be joined by the Marines, Coast Guard and Operation Sail. Another significant aspect of this festivity will be the commemoration of the bicentennial of “The Star Spangled Banner” and the conflict that drew us into battle with Great Britain. Francis Scott Key penned our beloved anthem after seeing the mammoth American flag flying proudly over Ft. McHenry as a symbol of defiance after the British has burned Washington and were advancing on Baltimore. The flag itself was created by Mary Young Pickersgill.
The flotilla will consist of nine ships in total. As each ship arrives it will be greeted by a 21 gun salute courtesy of the Louisiana National Guard. The Coast Guard’s Eagle is expected to be the first to arrive at Woldenberg Park. This is one of the historic and beautiful “tall ships” and is truly a sight to be seen. Next will be a Canadian frigate the HMCS St. Johns which will be berthed at the Thalia Street Wharf. Look for the USS Mitscher at around 2:30 pm at the Gov. Nicholls Street Wharf. Next in line will be the Indonesian tall ship the KRI Dewaruci which will berth in the vicinity of the Eagle at Woldenberg Park. What a sight those two ships should make together. The Esplanade Street Wharf will welcome the French frigate FS Germinal and yet another tall ship from Ecuador, the Guayas, will find its way to Woldenberg Part to join its brother tall ships. The Royal Navy’s HMS Montrose will be docking at the Thalia Street Wharf around 3:30 pm followed by the USS Wasp which is an amphibious vessel much like a small aircraft carrier.
Tours and Entertainment
Besides watching these magnificent ships come into town you will be able to take tours of them. Should you decide to witness the arrival of the flotilla along the river’s levees or along the City’s riverfront you will be entertained by the U.S. Coast Guard Band, the Marine Corps Band and the Navy Band.
The general tours for most of the vessels won’t begin until Wednesday afternoon. Good news, the tours are free.On Saturday and Sunday you are in for a very special treat indeed. It is then that the world famous Navy and Marine Corps’ Blue Angels will be flying as headliners for air shows over Lake Pontchartrain. This can best be viewed from the University of New Orleans eastward to the Lakefront Airport. I had the honor to view their show in Pensacola a few months ago and it was one of the most impressive and exciting things that I have ever witnessed.The National Park Service will present exhibits at the Chalmette Battlefield. There will be a military drill demonstration in Jackson Square. Senior Navy and Coast Guard historians will discuss the War of 1812 Thursday morning at the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Louisiana State Museum will be showing war related exhibits at the Cabildo. Also on Thursday local chefs will pair up with culinary specialist from the visiting ships for a Louisiana seafood cooking competition in, where else, Woldenberg Park.
All the Information
For a complete schedule of events and all the information you need about Navy Week in New Orleans click here.
This promises to be quite the photographic opportunity. The variety of ships including the “old time” tall ships on display will give you ample choices to shoot your best stuff. Imagine a tall ship from another era with the Crescent City Connection in the background! It just might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Prior to setting sail there will be thousands of U.S. and foreign sailors and Marines fanning out across the City performing community services projects ranging from planting trees along the lake to sprucing up a home for abused girls and just about anything else you can imagine. If you happen to see one of these special people, be sure to introduce yourself and tell them just how much you are thankful for their service and good deeds. It will not go unappreciated.