Black Ships Celebration is alive and well

When one thinks of the city of Newport, pictures of its scenic beauty come to mind: the mansions, Cliff Walk, the harbor and, of course, the Newport Bridge.

But in my mind, what sets our fair city apart from all others is the impact our citizens have had upon the community at large. Who we are in a chapter of the history books cannot always be captured by a painting or a photograph. It is our history that defines who we are. It is the stories we recount that lead us to our future enterprises.

In Newport, we commemorate our history and the impact it's had on our collective conscious, in part, by way of the festivals and celebrations that fill our community calendar every year.

This year’s Newport-Shimoda Black Ships Celebration is no different.

The celebration honors the contributions of Newport’s native son, Commodore Matthew C. Perry, who negotiated the Treaty of Kanagawa between the United States and the Edo Period Shogunate in 1854. This historical event opened Japan to trade with the West and signified the beginning of Japanese-American relations. Known as the “Father of the Steam Navy,” Perry was especially dedicated to the education of naval officers. Both of these endeavors required great commitment and study of the Japanese culture to be successful. It is this commitment to cultural exchange that drives this year’s 35th Annual Newport-Shimoda Black Ships Celebration, which also celebrates the 60th anniversary of the twinning of the city of Newport and its sister-city, Shimoda, Japan.

This year’s festival committee is dedicated to the importance of celebrating our Newport history with the Japanese and the positive contributions that our friendship continues to bestow upon both countries. And like Commodore Perry, the festival is committed to providing educational experiences to the public and to support the Shimoda Student Exchange Scholarship for students from Newport to travel to Shimoda to be immersed in the culture and its people.

The schedule of events this year will take place all throughout Newport and will include commemorative events such as the Opening Wreath Laying Ceremony at Touro Park and the Closing Memorial Ceremony at Island Cemetery on Farewell Street that will feature our guests from Japan, the U.S. Navy Band and the Newport Artillery. The people’s favorite Odaiko drummers will perform at the family-friendly Arts & Cultural Festival in Touro Park with food, artisans, children’s activities and additional live music. All free and open to the public.

Scheduled from July 12-15, the 35th Annual Newport-Shimoda Black Ships Celebration is alive and well and living in Newport. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We invite you to come learn what our sister-city has to offer and what we, indeed, have to share with them.

Carmela Geer, Newport-Shimoda Black Ships Celebration Committee

 

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