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The USS Constitution passes in front of the USS John F. Kennedy during today's parade of the Tall Ships. (Globe Staff Photo/
For Parade of Sail goers, a 'beautiful, beautiful sight'
By Christopher A. Szechenyi, Boston.com Staff, 07/11/00
BOSTON -- "Fantastic. It's overwhelming. It's something you can't fully appreciate on television."
So said Terri Lee of Boston, as she craned for a better view of the tall ships Parade of Sail from the USS Kennedy. Lee was among hundreds of people who gathered on the giant aircraft carrier for a prime view of the 145 tall ships as they passed by earlier today.
"I like the fact that they're looking at us," said Lee's friend Erin Given of Medfield. "Everyone's waving."
"Very impressive," said Peter Thisom, a retired high school principal from Milton, who was sitting on a deck chair on the edge of the carrier's flight deck. "We have a beautiful view."
The Parade began on time at 9:30 a.m., and about 45 minutes later, the USS Constitution was abreast the Kennedy in the inner harbor. The Constitution, built in 1798, fired a 21-cannon salute to mark its arrival.
"That is a beautiful, beautiful sight," said Joaquin Juatai, a sailor on board the Kennedy who watched in awe as the parade began. "God, I wish I were in the Navy back then. I want to sail."
"You've got the best seat in the house, Buddy," said Jim Ricci to his 10-year-old son Nick. Both watched intently as the Constitution went by followed by the first flotilla of ships.
This morning, as bagpipes played in the background, visitors on the Kennedy studied program guides, scanned the horizon, slapped on sun screen, ate, drank and ate some more as they waited for the big event to begin.
"It's an experience of a lifetime," said Marilyn Gildersleeve, of Framingham. "There are so many ships coming from so many countries."
She was among the throngs of dignitaries and other lucky ticket holders who were invited to visit aboard the Kennedy, which arrived yesterday and is serving as a prime viewing spot for the parade.
The Parade of Sail lasted about six hours, with the Constitution leading the way, and organizers said this afternoon that more than a million people crowded the waterfront around Boston Harbor for the parade.
As many as four million viewers while the ships are in town.
"This is awesome, absolutely perfect," said Lisa Weiss, a teacher at Lincoln-Subury Regional High School whose family got tickets from a Navy recruiters.
"I'm just having a great time," said her 10-year-old son Stephen. "I can't wait to see the sails."
On the deck of the 1,052-foot aircraft carrier, two dozen rows of sailors in their dress whites joined the visitors invited on board.
The Boston Police Fife and Drum Corps played Gaelic tunes and an F-14 sat at the ship's stern with its cockpit open. But the highlight was obviously the sweeping view of the inner harbor.
The sky was virtually cloud-free and a stiff breeze plied the waves. On the water, hundreds of recreational boats lined the harbor, to watch 145 tall ships taking part in the parade.
None of the boaters was moving, a requirement laid down by the U.S. Coast Guard.
"It's absolutely spectacular," said Jim Westra, a lawyer from Wenham. "It's great today."
"This is my first time in the United States, it's marvelous," said Lt. Gautam Math, who arrived from India after sailing for a month with 400 other crew members aboard the INS Mysore.
"You've got a great thing going on here," Math said.
The Captain of the USS Kennedy agreed, and welcomed his guests like this:
"I look around here today and say, 'Is this heaven? No, this is Boston,' " said Capt. Michael H. Miller. "It is our pleasure to have you here today on Big John."