Post #350 Our planning began in February for the mid-August trip. Not that I was looking forward to leaving my summer fishing home very near the peak time of fishing for the elusive Muskie. But it was little consolation to appease my non-fishing wife for enduring 4 months of isolation within the reservation every summer. A few days off the water would be OK. I hated to leave our friends out of (or should I say, “I hated the thought of leaving my fishing partner ON the lake without me!”) As it turned out, my fishing partners wife ALSO wanted to see this great mid-August event!
The EVENT, was the arrival of the Tall Ships in Duluth. There are tall masted schooners and square riggers that sail around the great lakes and “show off” their restoration. The ports of call change every year and this year they were returning to Duluth, Mn. Their arrival had been in the planning stages since their last visit three years prior and always occurs mid-August. We booked our motel room in February and purchased our entry tickets in May. We understood from the information that the ships would be arriving between 11 and 1 on Thursday, with a parade of ships to follow.
On Wednesday we drove to Duluth and spent the afternoon touring the Glensheen Mansion, time very well spent. On the evening news we learned that 120,000 tickets had been pre-sold for the weekend and that 200,000 people were expected. By the next morning it was 300,000 that was anticipated to arrive. We arrived 30 minutes before Thursday’s gate opening and waited in line, OK, so there were multiple entry points, but if we were only 300 people back from the gate, how did these other 5,000 visitors get in before we did? Oh yeah, the gate opened at 11 AM but the ships had already arrived and they were docked! There were nine ships to be seen; schooners like the Pride of Baltimore and the Mist of Avalon, a couple of square rigs, The Dennis Sullivan and US Brig Niagara, and the center piece of the event the worlds only Spanish Galleon. Thursday’s activities include “walking” by the ships and perusing through seemingly 3 million artsy tents. (There was even a vendor proclaiming to be from the US Navy, promoting the USS Minnesota and selling caps, shirts and sweat shirts. I exclaimed SHAME ON YOU!! Upon seeing the “Navy-USS Minnesota” caps were made in China.)
Our tickets were titled “Multi-Day, Fast Pass, & Combos”. Which we learned on the second day didn’t mean anything other than GENERAL ADMISSION. You apparently had to spend and additional $80/ticket for “first class” access (fast pass). Unlike Disney’s Fast Pass, in Duluth, Fast Pass means you get to stand in line for 3 hours for entry into the Spanish Galleon. While the General Admission (lower class) people stand in line for 7 hours! Friday became a REAL disappointment. How did the event planners expect to get 300,000 or 200,000 or even 120,000 people through these boats? Did the plannnersbelieve we’d be satisfied examining how thousands of jewelry makers attach a rock to chain? phfffffff! The real attraction turned out to be the worlds largest Rubber Duckie, that I could have seen anywhere from town without having to pay the entry fee!
If you want to spend some time in Duluth, go as we did, visit the GlenSheen Mansion and learn about its construction that was a-head-of-its-time and ride the city bus system, (public transportation-an enjoyable first for me).
If want to tour a square rigged ship, go to Boston and see the USS Constitution, old Iron Sides, that’s money better spent than going to the Duluth Tall Ships Event. Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT go to Duluth for the Tall Ships Event in the future, YOU WILL BE GREATLY DISAPPOINTED!!!!