The Buffalo News
BY: T.J. Pignataro
Navy Week’s streak of perfect Buffalo weather came to an abrupt end – if only for a couple of hours – Friday afternoon, but forecasters are calling for clear sailing right through the weekend and into Monday, when the event officially wraps up.
“The weather is going to be gorgeous,” said Brendan Reed, a second-season “deckhand” who’s been aboard the historic Brig Niagara tall ship since March.
“People are just super pumped to see this,” said Reed, explaining that he most enjoys visiting “smaller ports,” and said his first voyage to Buffalo has shown him the city has “a really neat balance” of small port and big-city.
All of the activity at the harbor took about a three-hour timeout Friday afternoon.
Visitors and military personnel alike sought safe harbor indoors at about 3:30 p.m., when a fast-moving cold front quickly dampened the steamy, early-afternoon sunshine.
They never “gave up the ship,” however, and early-evening hours brought a parting of the clouds and a glorious sunset over the fleet, which, besides the Niagara, also includes the Navy’s USS Hurricane and U.S. Coast Guard’s 140-foot ice breaking tug, Katmai Bay.
Navy Week has attracted thousands of visitors to Canalside and the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park since its Wednesday opening.
Event organizers are counting on a big weekend with a roster packed with activities designed to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
Today’s events include a 2 p.m. “landing” Canalside by the U.S. Navy “Leap Frogs” – an elite parachute team that will jump from an altitude of about 12,500 feet. They’ll do similar jumps at 10 a.m. at the Buffalo Zoo and again at 6 p.m. at Canalside.
There also will be a 2 p.m. ceremony honoring sailors and service personnel in town at the Naval Park. The U.S. Coast Guard Silent Drill Team will offer presentations on the hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Coast Guard personnel will make a 2 p.m. search-and-rescue demonstration in Buffalo Harbor.
On Sunday, about 100 sailors will attend the Buffalo Bills home opener against Kansas City at Ralph Wilson Stadium. A few will be on the field for the opening coin toss, and the “Leap Frogs” will be jumping at the stadium. An 1812 Bicentennial Gala will then be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Naval Park as a grand finale to Navy Week.
“It’s really a breath of fresh air,” said Frank Stachowiak of Cheektowaga, a Vietnam Army veteran. “It’s a shot in the arm for Buffalo, that’s for sure.”