Parade of Sail kicks off Tall Ships festival Thursday

On Thursday, Tacoma becomes port of call for the Tall Ships Festival as 30 vessels approach the City of Destiny in a spectacular Parade of Sail and Welcome Ceremony by the Puyallup Tribe’s “Circle of Canoes.”
The vessels, ranging in size from the 23-foot Bounty of Kister to the 356-foot Pallada will be docked along the Thea Foss Waterway from June 30 through July 4.

The Parade of Sail will begin at approximately 1 p.m. when the R. Tucker Thompson, a schooner from Whageri, New Zealand – the vessel to have traveled the farthest distance – crosses Commencement Bay from Vashon Island as the leader of the fleet to begin the parade from the Tacoma Yacht Club. Each vessel will cruise the Ruston Way Waterfront to Thea Foss Park at which point they will furl their sails and come about circling to the back of the procession line at Les Davies Pier. The Welcoming Ceremony will begin at approximately 3 p.m., when the R. Tucker Thompson is expected to navigate the full circle and begin her entrance into the Thea Foss Waterway.

In keeping with Tacoma’s tradition of cultural exchange between the Puyallup Tribe and the city’s maritime heritage and tall ships’ events, six canoes from the Puyallup Tribe will welcome the ships bearing the flags of their five respective nations. The center boat in the “Circle of Canoes” will navigate the welcoming. Tribal members will present each of the representative nation ships with a welcome gift as they enter the waterway. The five ships and their respective nations are the R. Tucker Thompson, New Zealand, the full-rigged North Star of Herschel Island, Canada, the Lady Washington, USA, Cuahtemoc, a Mexican navy training ship, and the Pallada, of Vladivostok, Russia.

A land based Welcome Ceremony will occur simultaneously at Thea’s Park located at 4th and Dock Street with a program and individual ship arrival announcements and introductions. Participants will include Connie McCloud, a Puyallup tribal elder, Gov. Christine Gregoire, Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma, legislators, and the consuls from the representative nations of New Zealand, Canada, Mexico and Russia.

The Parade of Sail sequence is as follows: R. Tucker Thompson, CG83527, Virginia V., P-520, Lavengro, Lynx, Bounty of Krister, North Star of Herschel Island, Yankee Clipper, Kia Ora, Rejoice, Resolute, Thea Foss, Red Jacket, Lady Washington, Petra, Odyssey, Zodiac, Suva, Amazing Grace, Bill of Rights, Cuauhtemoc, Tolofa, Charles N. Curtis, Pallada and three local vessels. The Pacific Swift, Pacific Grace and Adventuress will be arriving late and will not be participating in the Parade of Sail.

The best public viewing for the Parade of Sail is along the Ruston Way Waterfront. To view the Welcome Ceremony visit Thea’s Park at 4th and Dock Street.

The ships will be available for viewing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 1 through July 4. Public ship boarding is available along with Dockside entertainment, craft & food booths and Museum district activities. Tickets to get an up-close look at or tour of a select group of vessels are $10 per person per day. Children 10 and under are free with a ticketed adult. Multiple Day Boarding Passes are available for $25. The festival will culminate in Freedom Fair, Tacoma’s Fourth of July celebration that features a critically acclaimed fireworks display over Commencement Bay.

Tickets may be purchased on-line at or by contacting the Tall Ships office at 253.682.1446.

The 2005 Tacoma Tall Ships Festival is part of the American Sail Training Association’s Pacific Tall Ships Challenge.

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