The stage at Morgan Park was the site for Glen Cove Mayor Thomas Suozzi's official welcome to the captains and crews of the Tall Ships in Americas' Sail '98 at Glen Cove. It was preceded by several musical numbers offered by the award-winning Glen Cove High School Jazz Ensemble and a delightful performance by students from the Glen Street Dance Studio. Dressed in white bellbottoms, red and white striped shirts, and sailor hats they performed a charming medley of dances with nautical themes, including Popeye and Gilligan's Island signature music. The got the crowd nicely warmed up for Mayor Suozzi's official welcome.
In his opening statements, Mayor Suozzi expressed his pleasure at the overwhelming success of the event, and his gratitude to the thousands of volunteers whose efforts made it so. He noted that no Glen Cove tax dollars were spent and that the event was financed by generous sponsors. In fact, the Morgan Park stage was sponsored by Genovese Drug Stores. Following Mayor Suozzi's remarks, Angela Ford sang America the Beautiful accompanied by Jason Crosby on piano. The Rev. William Wendler spoke on behalf of the Americas' Sail International Board of Directors and marked the occasion as an opportunity to celebrate brotherhood between nations. He then presented a plaque to the mayor commemorating Americas' Sail '98 at Glen Cove.
The captains of the Tall Ships were introduced to the audience by Mayor Suozzi and each was presented with a key to the city. The captains are: George Dobrovich of the Quinnipiack; Dennis Watson of the Phoenix; David Hiott of the Kalmar Nyckel; Chip Reynolds of the Half Moon; Gioia Blux of the Clearwater; Robin Walbridge of the HMS Bounty; Richard Bailey of the HMS Rose and Commanding Officer Jorge Omar Godoy of the Libertad. Each captain spoke a few words in return. Captain Godoy of the Libertad spoke warmly of the courtesy and attention he and his crew had received since their arrival to the United States. He also mentioned the importance of Americas' Sail as a cultural event. Several fourth grade students of Glen Cove Landing School presented each captain with a quilt they had made for this occasion.
Also honored by Mayor Suozzi during the opening ceremonies were Rev. Wendler, (who is also the pastor of the Carpenter Memorial Methodist Church in Glen Cove and who first brought to Mayor Suozzi the idea of Glen Cove being a host port for Americas' Sail '98); Frank Braynard, one of the founders of Americas' Sail and a noted sailing historian who lives in Sea Cliff; and Paul Pennoyer, a trustee of Morgan Park. Mr. Braynard said, "The sea knows no nationality. There is a brotherhood of the seas."
Joined by Angela Ford and Jason Crosby, Mayor Suozzi the led the way in a rendering of Let There Be Peace On Earth, the words to which were included in the program so that all could sing along. With that, an outstanding series of events and celebrations for Americas' Sail '98 at Glen Cove was under way.
The first event for the public to enjoy was a display by the US Navy Drill Team. Members of the team wearing crisp dress whites, stepped out smartly with the Presentation of Colors, after which they demonstrated precision drilling with rifles and gleaming fixed bayonets. Except for the few commands snapped out, the only sounds were the tread of marching feet, the thud of rifle butts hitting the ground and the slap of hands against the barrels, all in unison. As a culmination, they were joined by some young ladies and after the drill team split into groups of four surrounding each of the girls, the team spun their rifles, (remember the fixed bayonets), all around the girls. They extended the rifles and stopped dead an inch from each girl's head. Then with the points, each drill team member slowly lifted the girls' caps. Except for a few eyes popping with alarm, the girls stood frozen throughout the display. They sure looked happy when it was all over........and proud, too.
Saturday's festivities concluded with a cocktail party for the captains and their ladies at the Woolworth Estate. As strains of harp music floated through the gardens outside, and piano music inside, guests drifted around the manicured gardens and gracious room, nibbling delicate crepes, seafood dishes and fabulous pastries and sipping wine as they chatted.
Mayor Suozzi and Captain Godoy of the Libertad found time to chat a little more casually and clearly enjoyed each others company. The mayor also gave a few quiet minutes to the press, including Francis Zera of Georgia's Savannah Guardian. Since Savannah is undergoing a similar revitalization Mr. Zera wanted to make a comparison. "Well, in Savannah somebody wrote a book," quipped the mayor, but he quickly grew serious, firing off his comments. "Glen Cove has ten miles of waterfront. Nine of those miles included pristine beaches and mansions. One mile has industrial damage and pollution, and economic drain." He explained his goal of recycling that property, so that it is available for tourism and sustainable economic development in harmony with the environment. mayor Suozzi gave a fast run-down on his city's master plan of using state and federal tax dollars to clean up the land, dredge the harbor, put in pedestrian boardwalk and bicycle path and other improvements. The price tag for all this?$200 million. "Ten percent from state and federal funds and 90 percent from private funding. The first waterfront restaurant opened Wednesday night....the Steamboat Landing. This event is all about establishing in people's minds that Glen Cove is a beautiful waterfront destination," concluded Mayor Suozzi.
At the foot of the gangplank is a sailor, dressed in the usual impeccable dress whites. Like all the seamen one has met on the whirlwind Americas' Sail weekend, he is unfailingly courteous, standing tall with his hands clasped behind his back in the "formal at ease" position. As guests arrive for Sunday evening's cocktail party, he gives them a warm, yet dignified, welcome and ushers them aboard after a discreet check to make sure they have any business going aboard in the first place. An awful lot of people wanted to board the Libertad, but not too many tried. Every now and then, with discretion and tact, he did have to turn away a gate crasher. He deserves some kind of medal. The Libertad was a really great place to be for cocktails, speeches, great food and fireworks. In fact, it was the place to be.
Under a canopy, the aft deck was loaded with tables carrying Argentinean hors d'oeuvres, some unidentifiable but all delicious. A few did have what amounted to signs posted; closer examination revealed a squid artfully decorated at one tray, and another with the glazed head of a small pig. Weaving expertly through the crowd were waiters in red shirts balancing trays bearing Argentinean wine, soda and a delicious light Argentinean beer. Scattered throughout the crowd, and easy to spot in their dress whites, were the ship's officers. Commanding Officer Captain Jorge Godoy, Captain Eduardo Alviles, Rear Admiral Leonidas Llano and others. Also present, but less conspicuous in a dark navy suit, was the Consul General of Argentina, G.J. McGough. The Consul said he is assigned to the Northeast Coast of the United States.
After the US and Argentinean national anthems were played, Mayor Suozzi and Captain Godoy spoke briefly with the help of translators. Captain Godoy presented Mayor Suozzi to the next best thing than a whole cow. On the Captain's signal, waiters brought the mayor with the entire leg of a cow, roasted to perfection and flaming like crepes suzette. After a ceremonial taste, everyone was invited to sample the dish, which was every bit as delicious as Captain Godoy had promised. Argentina is very proud of its beef industry which has become world renowned. A member of the Argentinean Embassy in Washington told this reported that Argentinean beef is free of chemicals and additives. The beef industry hopes to break through into Asian markets.
The finale of the evening aboard the Libertad, was the Grucci fireworks display sponsored by Cablevision. It wasn't a very long one. but it was quite lovely with a lot of blues, which is one of the most difficult colors to produce. As guests made their goodbyes and drifted down the gangplank, assisted by the same charming fellow who greeted them, crewmen were arriving back to the Libertad. The had gone exploring and a surprising number of them were happily toting television sets and other shopping spree evidence. It seemed they had just as good a time as the guests.