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May 21, 2019

History Lesson: Behind Fleet Week

Seeing sailor stripes around the city? You guessed it, it’s Fleet Week – the seven-day long celebration of hosting members of the U.S. Marine Corp, Coast Guard and Navy. This year, Fleet Week runs from May 22nd through the 28th and will be chock-full of time-honored traditions and festivities. What starts with a Parade of Ships down the Hudson River soon becomes a week-long festival of parties and sailor-themed events. With participating harbors and venues across all boroughs, it’s easy to get patriotic and join in on the fun.

A Brief History of Fleet Week

The history of Fleet Week in New York City goes back as far as 1898, when the USS Olympia and other Naval ships docked in New York towards the end of the Spanish-American civil war. The crew was met with celebratory crowds in New York, who claimed their Commodore George Dewey as the hero of the battle of Manila Bay. This festive reception marked the first of many Naval celebrations at the city’s harbor.

Years later, the first official New York Fleet Week took place in 1984. Here began the still-kept tradition of allowing citizens to tour docked ships and aircraft vessels while crew members enjoy their time out and about in the city.

Where to Celebrate

It’s no secret that most sailors love a good drink, especially when docked in a new city. To share a pint with these maritime men and women, head to The Polynesian on West 42nd street for a classic tiki cocktail or Rudy’s Bar & Grill on 9th avenue for a free hot dog with your first drink order. You can also check out The Intrepid, just a 25-minute cab ride from The Wagner, for one of their many Fleet Week themed events, and book a tour of one of the impressive vessels on display for the week.

To see the Navy personnel in action, visit the Dive Tank in Times Square. You’ll get to see their diving expertise up-close, as well as their official diving gear. Ask the divers questions about their work and try your luck at one of the hosted games.