Gee, what a difference a year makes.
Here in Good Ol’ New London the weekend AFTER 4th of July weekend is SailFest. You read often you know this is a big street carnival/fair that used to boast the Second Biggest Fireworks Display on the East Coast. In fact, I think at one time we were the Second Largest Fireworks Display in the Country…right after NYC. That changed. We’re now the Fourth Biggest Fireworks Display on the East Coast. Not bad. Not too shabby at all but, well, we got spoiled. Let me tell you the Days of Fireworks Past were AWESOME. Mind boggling. Mind-blowing. Just plain Worth the Trip from Anywhere. Someone fired the Grucci Family or they quit or OOB’d (I doubt that) who knows, all I know is they don’t do them anymore and it shows. Not just in the night sky on Saturday night but on Friday evening, All Day Saturday, and Sunday ’til about noon.
I had repeatedly heard that SailFest was going to be ‘small’ this year that some people wanted to ‘scale back’. I don’t if ‘they’ wanted to or if it was something that was sort of foisted upon ‘them’. I do know it was much smaller.
Yesterday was an odd day, it was hot for a while, then it rained. Glorious rain, I typed my fingers off and got 5 new pages.🙂 Then it was overcast and cool. Long about 4:30 hubby said; “Well, do you want to go or not?”
I’ve gone nearly EVERY single year since SailFest Began and loved it. For 3 lousy days out of the year my little part of the world sort of springs to life and I hate to miss it. So we went. It was cool in the house so I left my jeans on…big mistake. I also swapped out my wedge sandals for my pseudo-construction boots, another mistake. We drove a little ways to a place known as Shaw’s Cove, it’s a Professional Park lots of office buildings, we always park by Community Health but decided to try a few lots up since there were plenty of spaces. Past Community Health the lots were all roped off not for private parties but for pay some were charging $10.00 to park and others $20.00 (most were charging $20.00) but one place was charging a whopping $30.00 to park your car! OMG!
Most of those lots were less than half-full….way less than half-full and as we walked by them I noticed most of them had the same signs for…QuickPark(?) anyway obviously it’s some ‘company’ you hire to guard-dog your lot and charge money for people to park. I hope all of those lot owners had to shell out more than they took in. They weren’t open yesterday anyway cheap bastards.
For those of you who know; we walked from The Bank Street Cafe down to SailFest, which is on Bank Street and Google tells me this distance is 7/10 of a mile. Seemed a lot longer! LOL. The sun came out and it got HOT and sticky. By the time we got home I had to peel my jeans off my body along with my undies. Ick. Once again, I realized how much exercise I don’t get. My legs were killing me. I took a little-sit-down at the old Chucky’s across from the firehouse. After that I was all right, once the atmosphere kicks in and I start going from vendor to vendor my legs don’t hurt anymore or at least not as much.😉
We crossed the Police Gate onto to Bank Street which was closed to traffic so everyone could walk in the street, they do that every year. We walked in the street and, well, vendors were not crammed together by any means. There was plenty of space between kiosks and a good deal of room to walk around in. That alone is unusual. The crowd, by that time, is usually so dense you can hardly breathe let a lone move.
They attracted the usual plenitude of hippie shops. That’s what I call them anyway. You know the vendors that sell the really pretty long summer dresses made of the thinnest cotton and leather bracelets and big hand bags and maybe some oils and incense. My kinda place. I stopped at all of those and only found one jewelry place that I wanted to buy something. It just called and called to me and even now I am sad that I let it pass by. It was a beautiful and very delicate silver weeping willow tree on a very delicate chain. I know…I know….it was meant for me and I should have snatched it up. But I didn’t. I told myself I’d snatch it up on the way back but we didn’t go back that way. Bummer.
We walked on, all the way down Bank and then up half of State Street. This year SailFest ended well-before Eugene O’Neill Drive never mind going up past City Hall as in Days of Yore. Hubby bought a sausage and pepper sandwich….$7.00! Food prices were high last year but this sandwich seemed worth it and it had a rather long sausage. We listened to the music on the Parade and then wandered down to the ever lovin’ Waterfront Park where huge signs were posted telling people that NO; Backpacks, coolers, baby carriages, over sized bags…blah blah blah…were allowed. There were tons of cops hanging around right by the sign watching tons of people stroll past them with their baby strollers and roller coolers. The main reason we don’t want baby strollers down there is the place is rather narrow and it’s hard enough to get around with all of the people lined up already to watch the fireworks, those walking around and the vendors without stumbling over someone’s baby stroller. We’re not trying to be mean just practical. But it didn’t work.
Down on City Pier I got a fried dough. It’s the only one I’ll eat all year so don’t yell at me. $6.00! OH MY! I bought it and sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar. I ate about half of it. Hubby ate a 1/4 and the other 1/4 hit the trash. But it was tasty.
The nice Grilled Cheese Lady didn’t come back this year. I missed her. I was really looking forward to one of her ooey-gooey yummy grilled cheese sandwiches. Most of the performing artisans didn’t come back, there was no one walking around stilts or in funny costumes, the Blacksmith Lady didn’t return and I liked her she was something to watch that year. There were no vendors selling the handmade soaps and the powdered dip mixes that I like. There were bands, one on the Parade doing old 80’s tunes in a traditional style, they did a great rendition of “New York State of Mind” and there was one band down on the Waterfront Park doing jazzed up renditions of old tunes, not really sure I liked them but they were having a grand time up there so that was good.
By the time we got there it was so hot I thought I was melting. We passed the last of the food stands including one for Beef Fat Fries….sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? They looked like French Fries but I wasn’t eating them since they were fried in some type of Beef Lard, hence the name. We stood there watching the band and I felt sure I was going to pass out if I didn’t get something cold. A lovely lady by the name of Rita came to my rescue
She’s wonderful! If you don’t know her I highly suggest you get to. Yes, I do. Funny thing is we’ve had one here on Colman Street for years and I’ve never been in because to me no one’s Italian Ice will ever beat the shack at Sound View or the Flavor King Truck from the days of my youth. But I was delightfully wrong. I got a small Watermelon Ice and it was heavenly! Not that like those crappy boxed things you can get at Stop & Shop this is real Italian Ice smooth and sweet. Cooled me to the core and I was ready to keep going. Last night I dreamed of the Flavor King Truck and my friends, Rob and Steve, the three of us sitting under the big Weeping Willow in my mother’s front yard slurping up white cups of icy goodness. How it used to drip down our hands when we’d squeeze the cup, little rivers of sticky red sweetness left behind little clean spots in the dirt on our hands. Oh yeah, if you got anything other than Watermelon or Cherry Ice you were just weird man! LOL
Anyway, a lot disappointed we wandered all the way back to the car and I was happy to see that those lots were still mostly empty. We discussed where we were going to watch the fireworks but it was obvious the sky wasn’t going to clear. We decided to skip them and not battle the crowds for pretty color clouds. We were right. They shot them off into the clouds from what I’m gathering on their Facebook page. We heard the boomers as we laid in bed watching “The Avengers” and I almost got up to look out the window because usually I can see a bit of them shooting up over the hospital but I skipped even that much.
All in all, SailFest was pretty much a bust this year. It was sooooo bad….
(How bad was it?)
It was sooooo bad that while I brought the camera with me I never turned it on. I didn’t find one single thing worth photographing. I also find something to take a picture of.
SailFest has been on the decline the last few years and I think some people want to phase it out altogether. I don’t know why. It seems ridiculous to me. 3 days out of 365 there’s actually something worth doing in Beautiful Downtown New London, something that used to attract nearly 750,000 people to the banks of the Thames River and now we’re around 300,000. I would think something like that would be something you’d want to keep and foster and…well…exploit. Let’s face it we don’t have much going for us here other than Sun, Sand, Surf and some moldy History nobody looks at anymore. And, like, the ENTIRE East Coast can say they have the same things so…what sets us apart in any manner?
Not much. Unless you like New England. And I do.
So let’s end on a happy note, shall we?
Yesterday the United States Post Office recognized MY Lighthouse…The Harbor Light….by placing it on a Forever Stamp.
So see, New London is good for something. Not much. But something is better than nothing.