Hello, Fleet Week.
While local residents massed along the Shore Road promenade to watch the parade of ships, students from local schools, military personnel, veterans, community members and others gathered at Fort Hamilton Army Base during the morning of Wednesday, May 25 to welcome and salute thousands of United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard service members, kicking off the 28th annual Fleet Week.
At the fort, the children in attendance were treated to live music, a trip to the Harbor Defense Museum, a performance by a magician, and the main event — watching the parade of 14 ships entering New York Harbor and passing under the Verrazano Bridge, marking the beginning of the traditional celebration. Over the course of the event, the Navy ship USS Bataan rendered an 11-gun salute to Fort Hamilton, and Fort Hamilton returned the 11-gun salute.
“This installation of Fort Hamilton is such a special place and part of the Bay Ridge community so it just makes it that much better because of the relationship we have,” said Colonel Joseph Davidson. “It’s such a great community and it is so supportive of all of the military, especially Fort Hamilton and our military community, so anything we get to share with them is special.”
US Army Specialist Kerone Hall was honored to be a part of his first Fleet Week event. “It’s a great experience being able to be exposed to this welcoming of the ships coming into our port,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. As a young soldier growing up in the ranks, it shows me the different entities and different parts of the organization that come together for one purpose and that means a lot to me. Doing this is by far one of the greatest experiences I’ve had being in the military.”
Veterans in attendance also acknowledged the tradition’s significance. “It’s great to honor our troops,” said veteran Gary Wasserman, who served in 1966. “Back when I served, there was no patriotism. Now they have it and they honor our troops, which is great.”
However, the kids from local schools were the stars. “It’s an honor for the boys to be here and doing the stuff they do for military,” said Xaverian High School Music Director Joseph Loposky, who led the school’s jazz band, which performed during the event.
“I think it’s such a great opportunity for the students to really appreciate and support the men and women that serve this country and get them to be more involved in the country they live in, and it gets them really excited. It really made their day today,” said third grade teacher Tiffany Cottone from P.S. 506: The School Of Journalism & Technology. “They’ve been excited all morning and one of my kids was taking a picture with a soldier. This was the most awesome day.”