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Sailors cavort around town after weeks at sea
By Christopher A. Szechenyi and Felicia Morton, Boston.com Staff, 07/12/00
BOSTON -– Liberty took on a new meaning last night in Boston.
Hundreds of sailors from around the world streamed into Boston and as the sun set last night, filled the city’s shops and pubs as they relaxed with their friends after a long voyage.
“I just want to see what this place is like,” said Rick Brasko, a Pittsburgh native who was enjoying a beer around 6 p.m. at the Black Rose with two other officers from the USS John F. Kennedy.
“I’m going on my last tour, then I’m going to retire.”
As he stood at the bar with his buddies, the weapons officer was looking ahead instead of back at his 25 years with the Navy.
“I want to retire, put my wife to work and sit back and watch soap operas,” Brasko joked.
Standing beside Brasko, Tim Griffin, the carrier’s food service officer, was taking a break from ordering hundreds of tons of meat and vegetables for the Kennedy’s 5,000 members of the crew. (That's 15,000 meals a day.)
“In New York, I ate pizza,” said Griffin, an El Paso, Texas native. “In Boston, I’m going to do chowder and seafood.”
Like many of the sailors who arrived yesterday with the Sail Boston 2000 Parade of Sail, Griffin was in awe of Boston’s age and history.
“This is a great city,” he said, as he took a swig of beer. “We’re in the place where the country was born.”
Henry “Hank” Webb, the ship’s bomb assembly officer, had less profound things on his mind.
“I have no desire to settle down right now,” said Webb, a Cincinnati native. “I just want to have fun.”
He wasn't alone, at least not last night, as sailors from a variety of nations plunged into the city's night life with gusto.
While many of the American sailors knew where to go for fun, a group of sailors from Greece seemed a bit lost as they wandered around Faneuil Hall, aimlessly.
“We’ve been in New York before. It’s a little more fun there,” said Chris Kastrisios, a member of the crew of the Aris, a 328-foot-long warship.
He noted with passing dismay the early closing times of the bars in Boston, but he added: “people here are more friendly.”
At Sissy Kelley’s, the music blared and some of the younger sailors made friends fast and easily. Take Brandon Dunn of Jacksonville, Florida for example.
He readily pointed to a small fan club of women as the source of his evening inspiration.
“It’s their fault,” he said of his decision to begin imbibing so early. It wasn’t even 7 p.m. and the group had already had several drinks. Nobody cared about the time, however.
The sailors, and their new friends, were more enthralled with each other.
“They’re awesome,” said Gina Simeone, as she flirted with the men in white. “You gotta love a guy in a uniform.”
Although Dunn and his mates planned on a long evening on the town, one of the older sailors watching them doubted they would last for long.
“It’s just like the first race at Belmont,” said the older officer, as he watched the younger crowd party.
“If you run too fast, you die early.”