Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Great River Day Flotilla

This past Saturday was the official kick-off of the Quadricentennial that marks the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson sailing up our beautiful river. In celebration, a flotilla of historic ships gathered at 8:00 AM in New York Harbor by the Statue of Liberty to parade up the Hudson River. I was fortunate to be on the sloop Clearwater, representing Beczak Environmental Education Center, along with guests from the Metropolitan Water Alliance, the Society for the Education of American Sailors and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

We sailed past many celebrations along the river as well as out in the Hudson. For me, though, the best welcome was in Yonkers. We were met by an array of colorful kayaks from the Yonkers Paddle and Rowing Club. At the Yonkers Pier, a large and enthusiastic crowd cheered. A magnificent water spray by the John J. Harvey fireboat answered cannon salutes from shore. Next, we passed Beczak Environmental Education Center where families, staff, friends, and visitors lined the beach waving flags.

I was moved to see our beautiful waterfront environmental center and its lush marsh—a living, breathing oasis—between urban apartment buildings and a school bus parking lot. I thought of the thousands of children who enjoy this fantastic place and wondered how many new environmentalists are inspired and awakened at Beczak.

I stepped off the Clearwater in Tarrytown at 7:30 PM exhilarated by this once-in-my-lifetime celebration of the Hudson River.

Clifford Schneider
Executive Director