Day: June 14th, 2007

Flag Day fireboats

Thursday, June 14th, 2007 | All Things, Events, NYC History

Spent my lunch break at South Street Seaport for the FDNY Flag Day celebrations.

By the time CS and I arrived, we had just missed the bagpipe processional and the “Blessing of the Fleet” by Fire Department chaplain Monsignor John Delendick. The blessing is a centuries-old tradition originating in southern European, predominantly Catholic, fishing communities, to ensure a safe and bountiful season for the men at sea. The Fire Department began performing this yearly ritual over its fleet after the September 11, 2001 attacks. That day, the fireboats evacuated hundreds of people from Manhattan to New Jersey, then worked for days pumping seawater to fight the fires at the World Trade Center after a downtown water main went out. The FDNY Marine Division, now in its 130th year, is comprised of eight ships, which together cover 560 miles of the city’s waterfront, making it the largest division of its kind in the world.

Flag Day procession

The highlight of the afternoon: the Fireboats “Water Salute”. We gathered at Pier 17 among firemen, clergy, locals and tourists to watch as the marine fleet made its way from the Brooklyn Bridge to the seaport to give a Flag Day salute, spectacularly shooting streams of red, white and blue water 300 feet into the overcast sky.

Flag Day fireboats

Flag Day fireboats

Flag Day fireboats

Accompanying the procession was the retired John J. Harvey. The fireboat, which voluntarily returned to service for 72 hours after September 11, spends most days resting in a berth on the lower Hudson, at Pier 66 Maritime, which is also home to the National Register-listed Lightship #115 “Frying Pan”, which I visited last summer.

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta:

Nicholas Scoppetta

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