by Kimberly A. Cook (Twitter@ WarriorTales)
Last year for the first time in memory, U.S. Navy ships did not attend Fleet Week during the Portland Rose Festival due to federal budget issues. But they are back Thursday to help us thank the active duty sailors, let locals tour the ships and honor veterans.
There are always some challenges getting these big ships more than 120 miles upstream to moor in the exact center of downtown Portland. I’ve seen masts snapped, near misses from turning ships around in the channel and all kinds of fun things. It’s a delicate ballet of tugs and river pilots and Navy bridge personnel making it all work. The Coast Guard protects the big ships while they are in port and the Portland Fire Department boats welcome them with spray and colored water. It’s a blast!
We also have Canadian Navy military ships, U.S. Coast Guard ships to tour, the restored PT boat and a pirate ship or two. It’s a great event and so many fun things to see, including the oldest Rose Show in the nation. It’s just not June without Rose Festival in full swing.
What I love best is people watching. If you park yourself on a bench down near the waterfront, you can see the whole world go by and hear many different languages. A writer loves nothing more than eavesdropping on regular folks to get great quotes.
So while you may have festivals and fairs in your area, go check them out. Not only can you research and have fun, there are always tons of snacks available. Around here we also get to watch the Dragon Boat races held in the Willamette River, right by all the ships. Rose Festival Ho!