May 22. 2018 9:25PM

USS Manchester's commissioning adds excitement to Portsmouth's annual Hit the Decks event

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent


The decks are open in Portsmouth to celebrate Thursday's Hit the Decks event. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

PORTSMOUTH — It’s time to Hit the Decks in Portsmouth.

The annual event takes place Thursday, but there is an added excitement in the air this year as the future USS Manchester is in the city awaiting its commissioning on Saturday morning.

Justin Rivlin, general manager of River House on Bow Street, said they have seen a number of boats pass by the restaurant but that there is something special about the ship that can be seen docked at New Hampshire State Pier from the restaurant’s decks.

“It’s exciting. The boat is out there. It’s very unique looking,” Rivlin said.

A sign in the window of River House promotes the drink specials they will have Thursday.

“We do have our deck punch, which is something we’re famous for. I think all the restaurants have their own version,” Rivlin said.

Rivlin said they will host a party on their cocktail deck with a deejay from 2 to 6 p.m. They expanded their deck by four tables during a recent renovation, he said.

At Martingale Wharf a few doors down, culinary director Brent Hazelbaker and business manager Michelle Matthews said they have created a standing-only area on the restaurant’s deck so more people can enjoy views of the Piscataqua River.

“This is so much a part of our business because we do have the biggest deck in the city,” Matthews said.

On Thursday, all draft beers will be $5. They are now expanding their food menu with more seafood and shareables, Hazelbaker said.

Portsmouth Gas Light on Market Street will host the Hit the Decks headquarters party from 3 to 5 p.m.

Sara Dahlen, the events coordinator for the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth, said Tuesday there are 43 businesses participating in Hit the Decks this year. Most of them are restaurants, but seven shops are offering special deals.

For example, Ten Thousand Villages on Congress Street is offering a 15 percent discount on items for people’s own decks, including birdhouses, chimes and planters.

At Inside Out on Market Street, owner Pat Lonergan said Hit the Decks is always a celebratory event in Portsmouth.

“This year, to keep in the theme of good cheer, we are featuring 20 percent off all our cocktail items. Plus, we are hosting tastings with our cocktail additives and aromas,” Lonergan said.

For more information about Hit the Decks, visit www.goportsmouthnh.com.