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Gloucester City: Schooner Arrives at Freedom Pier

Dscn2256 By John P. Schmidt NEWS Correspondent

  As Gloucester City Mayor William P. James played the bagpipes on the Delaware River, the Schooner North Wind sailed into port Saturday evening, July 5.

  It docked at the old Coast Guard Pier, which has been renamed Freedom Pier, under the direction of Captain Charles Reed.

  Reed has more than 40 years of maritime experience and is volunteering his time to help the City.

  "It's a beginning," Councilman Jay Brophy said.  "The King Street Theater went down, the Coast Guard Base closed down, and all this property closed down. Now, it's alive. It's absolutely a benefit to everybody, it's unbelievable."

  The Schooner was followed up the river by the Flagship IV, which also docks at Freedom Pier.

  Reed said the schooner departed its dry-dock in Greenwich at 9:40 a.m.

  The schooner, which will be renamed Saoirse Ceallaigh (the Gaelic for "freedom from strife"), and it will be the gem of the Gloucester City River Front revitalization.

  The goal is to turn the waterfront into an Irish Village dubbed, "Dublin on the Delaware." 

  According to the 2000 Census, 34.2 percent of the City's population has Irish ancestry, which makes Gloucester City the ninth-highest percentage of all municipalities in the United States with Irish ancestry, and the third highest among municipalities with a population above 1,000.

  "When you sit back and you don't do anything and stand in stagnant water, you sink," Mayor James said. "You got to move your feet, and all we did was move our feet onto this pier so we can create the future. No more sitting back doing studies. Governments stall themselves doing that all the time."

  James added, "Let's start moving forward. Let's start doing things and making things happen."

  The City plans to utilize the ship as a classroom and use it as a charter vessel. 

  Community Relations Specialist Bob Bevan said the next step is for the City to form a successful program to relate the boat to the youth of the city.

  Reed said the inside of the ship will be stripped to set it up to act as a school, along with sleeping quarters.   

  "Volunteers are going to be working on it, mostly volunteers will be doing the whole program," Reed said.  "[We] will be getting involved with teachers and environmental groups to tie it into the river and ecology as much as we can."

  Mayor James said he hopes the ship will act as a billboard for the City and that the estimated 140,000 cars which cross the Walt Whitman Bridge each day will take notice of it.

  "We're thinking by bringing this here and giving Gloucester pride, having people see it coming across the bridge [that it] is going to be a great thing," James said.

source Gloucester City News July 10