375th logo

June 2, 1998
No additional meeting scheduled

Click here to see planned Constitution Timeline from April meeting

Click here to read the official 375th Proclamation

Assistant Mayor Alex Hanson reported on the increasingly frequent meetings held at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard regarding the Aug 7-10, 1998 visit of the USS Constitution. According to Hanson, following the well publicized sea trials on the 200 year old frigate, "It looks like a go and we're expecting to get the word any time ." Hanson says an official Congressional press release announcing the visit is expected, and an announcement from the US Navy within a few weeks.

Details are shifting slightly from the original plan. For example, the original $100,000 corporate donor has declined to fund the expenses of the ship's arrival. Half the money has been found from another source, but $40,000 to cover the cost of running 30 shuttle buses has not, at this writing, been covered.

The Portsmouth parade is NOT likely to happen as previously announced. There may be a parade on the Kittery side of the river.

The system for distributing 16,000 remaining free passes to the ship for the two-day open house is still being resolved. 2,000 tickets have been distributed to school children in the Portsmouth area, and 2,000 to children in the Kittery area. It looks like those wishing tickets will request them via a coupon in the local newspapers. Tickets may divide visiting time into four blocks, Saturday and Sunday morning, Saturday and Sunday evening. Tours will begin at 7am each morning. Visitors will be bussed from Pease International Trade Port to the Navy Yard and back.

2,000 people will be allowed on the dock in Kittery to greet the ship and crew. Those people will be hand selected by the Constitution committee.

During the two day visit, the host towns will be required to house and feed 781 military personnel. Host families will get a special photo opportunity at the ship on the Monday departure day in the morning.

The Rotary Chicken Barbacue at Peirce Island has been moved up to Saturday to accommodate the feeding of the crew. Organizers expect to cook up 6-7,000 chickens from noon until evening on Saturday.

The USS Underwood, a modern frigate, will be coming in on Friday ahead of the Constitution. The Coast Guard cutter Reliance will also be on hand. Ironsides has about a 20 minutes window, arriving Friday on the slack tide in the Piscataqua River. Festivities at the evening arrival are expected to last until about 10:30 pm.

Ironsides will be towed to Portsmouth and will likely not be under sail at any point on the journey, according to sources. The Coast Guard will not be allowing small craft on the water in the river during the arrival time. However, after the 200 year old tall ship has docked, visiting ships may come within 75 feet of Old Ironsides on the Kittery side of the river.

Channel 9 is planning, according to chairman Joanne Grasso, to provide a live TV broadcast of the arrival running tentatively from 4-6:30pm on Friday, then a break for evening news, and live coverage from 7-8pm. It is not known whether the large evening lighting display planned will occur.

According to Hanson, the best photo opportunity, weather permitting, will be the departure of the oldest commissioned ship in the American Navy on Monday morning. At this point the ship may raise its sails.

375th Committee Members are planning an informational booth during Market Square Day on June 13th. Volunteers are being sought to man the booth which will sell buttons and hand out summer schedules.

Portsmouth poet laureate Esther Buffler has agreed to provide a 375th reading, likely at the John Paul Jones House in connection with the JPJ Birthday Party.

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The Official Text

State of New Hampshire
By Her Excellency
Jeanne Shaheen, Governor

City of Portsmouth
375th Anniversary

WHEREAS, Portsmouth was the home of many of the first European settlers who began arriving at the shores of New Hampshire as early as April, 1623; and

WHEREAS, these early settlers with their hope and dedication to find a better life, were the foundation in making Portsmouth a central and vital city in the State of New Hampshire; and

WHEREAS, Portsmouth was an original capital of the State of New Hampshire during the Revolutionary Era and was known then as Strawbery Banke. Many of these colonial buildings still exist and attract tourists from around the world; and

WHEREAS, Portsmouth Harbor became one of the nation's finest ports, bringing in national and international trade. Despite the increase in traffic, Portsmouth never lost its coastal beauty. Today, Portsmouth still enjoys a rich and beautiful coast; and

WHEREAS, greater Portsmouth area has a well-earned reputation for its historic preservation and continues to strive to promote and maintain its rich maritime heritage; and

WHEREAS, given these laudable contributions to the economic, cultural and social well-being of the citizens of New Hampshire, it is fitting that we join with Portsmouth in celebrating this historic anniversary;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JEANNE SHAHEEN, GOVERNOR of the STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, do hereby proclaim the year of 1998 as the year commemorating the 375th ANNIVERSARY OF THE SETTLEMENT OF THE CITY OF PORTSMOUTH. I encourage residents of New Hampshire to celebrate this event by visiting, studying and supporting the historic homes and sites in Portsmouth during this auspicious year.

Given at the Executive Chamber of Concord, this twenty-sixth day of May, in the year of Our Lord, one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-eight, and of the independence of the United States of America, two hundred and twenty-two.

Signed by the Governor and Executive Council
And affixed with the seal of the State of New Hampshire

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May 5, 1998

Next meeting is June 2

Click here to see planned Constitution Timeline
from April meeting

Mayor Sirrell, Portsmouth City Manager John Bohenko and Assistant Mayor Alex Hanson continue their Kittery meetings to plan for the arrival of the USS Constitution, despite the "maybe" status of the tall ship's arrival. According to the mayor, results of the May 18 "stress test" on Old Ironsides will be back by the end of May. In the meantime, planning continues.

The key new info is that, contrary to previous announcement, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will offer a "controlled open house." That means a few lucky ticket holders will get a rare view of the nation's oldest naval shipyard.

The mayor also noted that more Constitution tickets may be available beyond the number initially announced. Still, getting aboard will require the luck of a lottery.

Parade? "No question about it!" the mayor asserted. The planned Saturday parade route will run from the Navy Yard gate in Kittery, across the bridge to down town Market Square, then over to Peirce Island near Prescott Park. The US Navy or Coast Guard band is expected.

The mayor reported that homes for crew members are still needed. Volunteers must house at least two people and the process is being managed by the local Propeller Club and the Navy League.

There was discussion about the possibility of providing narrated info on the Constitution on the shuttle buses as they drive visitors from Pease Tradeport to the gates of the Navy Yard. The number of buses is uncertain, but it could be as many as 40 buses and parking for as many as 20,000 cars at Pease.

There will be plenty of cannon-fire and smoke as Old Ironsides makes a ceremonial salute to the seven forts along the entrance to the Piscataqua. Dating from colonial times to the present, the forts on both sides of the river include forts Dearborn, Stark, McClary, Foster, Sullivan and (of course) Fort Constitution. Current plans are for a three-gun volley at each fort.

A local private citizen is working to get three historic cannons for display during the visit of Old Ironsides, according to committee member John Hynes. Visitors may be able to see the famous Molly Stark pre-Revolutionary war cannon, plus a "Paul Revere" and 1848 weapon from the Mexican-American war.

Money is not an issue for the City which has raised its required $103,000 from a so-far anonymous sponsor. Costs include $25,000 for additional police, $40,000 for shuttle buses and more-than-you-can-imagine for Port-o-potties, according to the assistant mayor.

Attention is now being directed to use of the "official" 375th logo which may soon be seen on hats, T-shirts and other items. The City has agreed to license the logo, donated by Brown & Company, for specific uses by entrepreneurs. Vendors of buttons, pottery, pewter plates and medallions are being contacted by the Memorabilia Committee.

The number of 375th-related events are building in town as historic sites tie their events in with the celebration. There's talk of special May opening event coming up very soon, and a "secret" announcement about a special concert at Prescott Park on July 21. The 375th group will likely have a booth at Market Square Day in front of Eagle Photo right in Market Square. Events are being planned right through First Night as the last seconds of 1998 draw to a close.

© 1998 SeacoastNH.com

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April 14, 1998 Update

Next 375th Meeting is Tuesday May 5, 1998

Highlights of the Mayor's Blue Ribbon 375th Celebration Committee Meeting on April 13, 1998

Notes from a report by Alex Hanson, Ass't Mayor of Portsmouth, NH

Planned arrival time is just after 7pm at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Ironsides will likely not arrive under sail, but will probably be under tow. Arrival is dependent on weather.

2,500 hand-picked dignitaries will be on site in Kittery, Maine to greet the ship and crew which will feature speeches by the governors of NH and Maine. A reception for 500 guests is planned.

The Navy and Sylvania Corporation are planning to set up floodlights on Peirce Island to illuminate the ship on its three nights in port.

Ironsides will be open for tours starting at 9:30am to visitors with tickets. Mayor Evelyn Sirrell plans a parade in Portsmouth. Portsmouth Rotary is planning a giant chicken dinner picnic on Pierce Island on Portsmouth Harbor overlooking the site of the arrival of the Constitution. Fireworks are planned for Saturday night.

Ironsides will again be open at 9:30 am for tours. In the evening, the crew will prepare for its Monday departure. The Navy is planning to offer tours of the base on Saturday and Sunday and to open an area at the Kittery Gate for nonprofit agencies to set up booths for displays.

Not everyone will be able to get to the PNSY to tour Ironsides, which is normally open for tours in Boston, just an hour's drive south from Portsmouth. Visitors who come on board for a self-guided tour will need a ticket. A limited number of free tickets, estimated at a total of 15,000 for the two-day visit, will be made available. About 10,000 of those tickets will be drawn from a lottery system, as yet undetermined. The lottery may involve a drawing administered by the local newspaper. Preference for all tickets will be given to school children in the Seacoast area.

All visitors with tickets will be transported to Kittery from a shuttle bus system departing from Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth about two miles away.

While estimates for the four day arrival of the tall ship Constitution have been set as high as $300,000, Mayor Evelyn Sirrell says there will be no cost to the lucky 15,000 visitors for the parking, shuttle, ticket or tour. "Everything is one big freebie," she announced at the April 13 meeting of the Portsmouth 375th Celebration Committee. The tab for the entire event is being shared by the cities of Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, ME, by the states of Maine and New Hampshire, and by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The city plans to allocate $5,000 for incidental expenses for the 375th committee and donations are being accepted, but not solicited. The first donation was provided by the Masons Lodge of Portsmouth which contributed $500. Vendors wishing to use the official logo created by Brown & Co. may do so at no fee, though any voluntary contributions from their profits are welcomed.


© 1998 SeacoastNH.com
Please attribute all use.

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