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State opens Boston Harbor island fort for military families’ tour

The forecast calls for brisk weather for Saturday’s annual Boston Harbor cruise for US military families, when as many as 300 people are expected to board the Voyager III ferry for a military-history tour of the area.

The trip will include a stop at George’s Island to see Fort Warren, famous for housing Civil War prisoners, including Confederacy vice president Alexander Stephens.

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Both the island and fort are closed for the season, but are being reopened for the event by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, according to Mike Dyer of the Boston Harbor Island Alliance, which organized the trip.

“It’s meant to be a big thank you for the veterans,” Dyer said, adding that the Arbella Insurance Foundation financed the occasion.

The three-hour cruise leaves Long Wharf in Boston at 11 a.m., and stops for passengers at Pemberton Point in Hull at 11:40 a.m. It is free to veterans from any branch of the military; the cost is $5 for friends and family. Advance tickets are recommended and can be reserved by calling 617-770-0040 or visiting www.bostonharborislands.com.

Rangers from DCR and the National Park Service will recount the Boston Harbor Islands’ long history in coastal defense — including the role of Fort Andrews on Peddocks Island off Hull through both world wars. Representatives from the historic Massachusetts 54th Regiment will be in period costume at Georges Island to talk about life there during the Civil War at Fort Warren, Dyer said.

There also will be activities for children, such as hoop-rolling and games, he said.

The Boston Harbor Islands became part of the National Park System in 1996, with its 34 islands representing a total land mass of 1,600 acres at high tide and 3,100 acres at low tide.

The Boston Harbor Island Alliance works to promote the park, produce events, and raise money for new recreation facilities on the islands. The Arbella Insurance Foundation supports nonprofit organizations that have a significant positive impact on the people and communities of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.

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