PORTSMOUTH — People in Portsmouth are preparing for festivities when the Tall Ships arrive next week.
Phil von Hemert, vice chairman of the Piscataqua Maritime Commission, says the Parade of Sail will start at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 25. It begins at the mouth of the Piscataqua River and is scheduled to reach the Memorial Bridge around 10:45 a.m.
On Thursday, July 26, opening ceremonies will be held at 9:30 a.m. The Oliver Hazard Perry will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sunday, July 29.
The Oliver Hazard Perry is a fully rigged, three-masted ship which docks at the commercial fishing pier on Peirce Island. There will be a tent with exhibitions and food, von Hemert said Monday.
“This is my fourth year being involved and I’ve found everyone has fun, from kids to grandparents to everyone in between,” von Hemert said.
Three ships are participating in Sail Portsmouth. Schooners Roseway and Harvey Gamage will offer day tours, von Hemert said.
Last year, Sail Boston paid for non-compete clauses and the city of Portsmouth was doing extensive work at the wastewater treatment facility on Pierce Island, so the Portsmouth event was canceled.
Sail Portsmouth is a major fundraiser for the Piscataqua Maritime Commission, which hosts a Sea Challenge for disadvantaged Seacoast teenagers who spend a week aboard a schooner. About 40 teens are expected to participate this year.
“It’s just been a fantastic thing,” von Hemert said of the Sea Challenge.
On Monday, officials at the Portsmouth Department of Public Works announced the parking division will provide two shuttles for the duration of Sail Portsmouth to reduce parking and traffic congestion in the Prescott Park area.
The shuttles will run from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The shuttles will pick up and drop off at the bus stop located on Hanover Street in front of the parking garage and at the Strawbery Banke parking lot.
For more information and tickets, visit www.sailportsmouthnh.org.