Mayflower, USS Constitution to set sail with 2020 celebration in Charlestown
After the Mayflower II completes its multi-million dollar restoration next year, Boston will mark the occasion with a Memorial Day celebration at Charlestown Navy Yard.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, noting the historic importance and complex aftermath of the Mayflower’s arrival, said the ship’s landing on this continent launched the idea “that no matter where you are from, you have the rights to freedom and to opportunity.”
The celebration, which will also mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival on US shores, will include sessions on Indigenous history and highlight the impact that the ship had on those native to the land, officials said. “We haven’t always lived up to those ideals — history between the pilgrims and the Native Americans have shown us that,” Walsh said. “We must always be learning — willing to listen and learn — as we move forward from our past.”
Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, the chairwoman of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe in Martha’s Vineyard, said at the event that the Mayflower, its arrival, and ramifications are bittersweet. “The impact that it had as far as the negativity on our native community is just really devastating, you know? We’ve lost so much between our peoples, our customs, our traditions. Laws and prohibitions were placed against us so that we couldn’t dress, be, practice our traditions or our spiritual customs,” said Andrews-Maltais.
But the event is also an opportunity to rectify incomplete information on an integral period of US history, she added. The six-day maritime fete, scheduled for May 14 to 19 in Charlestown, will be free and open to the public and have entertainment, activities, food trucks, a beer garden, and no-cost tickets to enter the ship.
Magan Munson, the Mayflower Sails 2020 CEO, says during the celebration visitors will be allowed to enter and explore the ship, a 20th century replica that was built to scale. The original vessel carried 102 passengers plus crew from the English port of Plymouth.
“The Mayflower is a foundation of freedom and democracy in a lot of ways, but there’s so much more to it – the entrepreneurial spirit, the determination, the sense of community,” Munson said.
The Mayflower II was in Plymouth prior to its $11.2 million restoration. The ship was given to the United States by England in the 1950s to honor the friendship between the countries during and after World War II.
This story has been updated to correct the cost of the Mayflower II restoration project. It was $11.2 million.