Earlier this week BRO writer Sarah Maurer wrote about US Brig Niagara's visit to Buffalo (see here
). Moments ago I met with members of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to learn about the ins and outs of the ship's visit during Navy Fleet Week. Already US Brig Niagara has drawn large crowds to Canalside and could potentially get as many as 10,000 visitors during its stay here in Buffalo (the ship leaves Monday).
We'll revisit the complete tally of visitors next week, but more importantly is the image that the ship's crew will be leaving with. Apparently, Buffalo is the perfect tall ship city. Why? For a number of reasons. First, tall ships can make it here effortlessly because of the easily navigitable routes within close proximity to Buffalo's Inner Harbor. It's a smooth sail into Canalside and easy to tie up. Next year there will be an additional 1000 linear feet of boat dock, and the plan is to have more than one tall ship at Canalside at one time. This year a floating platform was built to specifically accommodate US Brig Niagara, which is the biggest ship that Canalside is able attract (at this point). ECHDC is weighing the possibility of hosting a tall ship festival down the road due to the overwhelming success of the recent schooner and tall ship visits. On top of that, the crew of The Brig Niagara stated that they felt that the Canalside conveniences, including showers, electric and water hook-ups, restaurants, landscape and proximity to downtown were all above par... and the tall ship community talks!
From the excitement of the initial welcome parade, including salutes from The Cotter fireboat and the Spirit of Buffalo schooner, along with cannon fire marking the tall ship's arrival, the exceptional fanfare has also been recognized by our visitors. I suppose that Buffalo has been awaiting this sort of nautical programming for quite some time - and it shows. The excitement from the flocks of visitors has apparently rubbed off on the visiting crew members. You have to figure, that while this is all new and different for Buffalo, the tall ship community also gets amped to visit unfamiliar ports, so it goes both ways.
In the end, combined with visiting naval vessels, this week is already a big success for Buffalo and is being considered by the folks at the ECHDC as another stepping stone towards increasing the sorts of sensational programming at Canalside that only tall ships can deliver.