NYSCA Grants in Action: City of Water Day with Long Island Traditions

City of Water Day, a celebration of the waterfronts of New York and New Jersey rang in its tenth year this July. Often held on Governors Island, this year, the event took place at Hunts Point Riverside Park, presented by Long Island Traditions—a NYSCA grantee—and non-profit organization Rocking the Boat.

In addition to exploring the waterways that border the Bronx, community members had the chance to learn about maritime crafts and traditions, and listen to traditional Trinidadian music, all presented by Long Island Traditions.

Park-goers enjoy steelband music by musician Ricardo Greenway

Long Island Traditions, directed by folklorist Nancy Solomon, is dedicated to the preservation of Long Island’s traditional culture, in particular the rich maritime history and contemporary culture. Long Island Traditions is supported by NYSCA’s Folk Arts program.

Rocking the Boat, a non-profit located in the south Bronx, teaches students to work together to build wooden boats, learn to row and sail, and restore local urban waterways, revitalizing their community while creating better lives for themselves. Every Saturday during the summer Rocking the Boat hosts Free Community Rowing Programs, where community members board student-made boats and have the chance to explore their community while rowing down the Hudson.

Chris Letts was among the maritime masters who joined the celebration at Riverside Park. A retired fisherman who has worked up and down the Hudson River, Chris shared his favorite seafood recipes, how to fish for eel, and talked about the impact of environmental changes on the fishing industry.

Chris Letts, pictured here with a crab trap and eel-spear.

Chris was joined by two other maritime masters.

Peter Sherman is a sailmaker who has worked with Rocking the Boat many times. Peter works to repair the organization’s sails and has recently taken on an apprentice. Together they explained the different kinds of materials used for sails over the years and demonstrated to visitors the techniques and tools used by sailmakers.

Peter Sherman and his apprentice, McKinney previously a student, who now works at Rocking the Boat.

Boatbuilder and half model maker, Chris Hale was also “on deck” at City of Water Day. Chris has built boats all over Long Island, but that day he was showcasing his model building skills.

Chris Hale pictured here, showing a young visitor how he shapes his models.

For more information on Long Island Traditions and Rocking the Boat please visit http://www.longislandtraditions.org/index.html  and http://rockingtheboat.org/.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *