Up the River Without a Paddle

The year 2009 marks four hundred years since Henry Hudson sailed up the river that now bears his name, and a little over two hundred years since Robert Fulton successfully employed the steamboat engine in a commercial vessel.

New York State’s signature commemorative event of these two milestones will be The Relay Flotilla, to be held on June 6, 2009. Due to our strategic location on the Hudson, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow will play an important part in the proceedings.

On the morning of June 6, the boat and yacht clubs of Manhattan will dispatch their membership around the tip of Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty. There they will join a flotilla led by New York State’s heritage flagships, the Onrust, the Half Moon, the Clearwater, the Woodie Guthrie and the Mystic Whaler. As they move upriver, they will be welcomed by the next most northerly clubs, who will then dispatch their members to continue the relay flotilla tracing Hudson’s path to Albany. Anyone wishing to join or follow the flotilla should visit www.exploreny400.com/riverday.

At 3pm on the afternoon of June 6, the vessels are due to dock in Tarrytown and Nyack, where they will spend the night, departing at 8am the next morning. Our towns have a packed weekend of events planned to welcome these historic vessels and their followers.

Before the vessels arrive, the day will begin with the Sleepy Hollow Community Arts Festival, presented in conjunction with the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, in Kingsland Point Park from 11am -3pm. The Festival will celebrate the diversity of the Sleepy Hollow Community. There will be a selection of authors reading their work on stage, along with a children’s poetry competition entitled “Haiku-on-the-Hudson.” The Junior League, co-presenters of “Haiku,” will be running a community poetry tent where members of the public will be encouraged to compose their own poems on the subject of the Hudson. There will be Artists and Crafters from all sectors of our community showing and selling their work, performances from local dance groups, a soccer fest, and plenty of food and live music all day (sponsored in part by J.P. Doyle’s). The Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, which is accessible from the park, will be open for tours.

As the boats begin to arrive at the Tarrytown Boat Club and Hudson Harbor, there will be a welcoming concert and celebration from 3pm onwards on the lawn in front of Hudson Harbors. The Clearwater will dock at the Boat Club and will be open for visitors. For more information about this and all our Quadricentennial events, please visit www.sleepyhollowchamber.com and follow the Quad link.

The activities will continue on Sunday, June 7, with Tarrytown’s annual Street Fair, the Historical Society’s Strawberry Festival and “Hudson River Fest: A Search for the Past, Present and Future” at Lyndhurst, presented in conjunction with Westchester County. This event will focus on the river, habitat preservation and open space, and will include lectures, demonstrations, food and entertainment (www.lyndhurst.org).

For those curious to know more about this anniversary, the Historical Society will be mounting an exhibition featuring material from their archives including a scale model of Robert Fulton’s Cleremont and ephemera from the 1909 commemorations. The Warner Library will present an illustrated lecture of lighthouses entitled “Lighthouses on the Hudson River” given by author Ken Woyce on May 4 at 7pm. The Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow Arts Council will be running a series of workshops at the Warner Library entitled “Culture Across the Quad.” Join them on May 21 at 7pm to sing and learn about the Pirates of the Hudson River with Jim Keyes, the Valley’s own Pirate King! (www.warnerlibrary.org).

Please visit the Chamber of Commerce web site for regular updates and don’t miss our area’s many wonderful events. It will be another one hundred years before we do this again!

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About the Author: Fiona Galloway