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York County officials are busy preparing Yorktown for the arrival of a replicated French ship that first brought a Revolutionary War hero to North American shores in 1780.
As part of the 235th anniversary of the Marquis de Lafayette’s departure from France to help General George Washington and the Continental Army in the fight for independence, the Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America built a replica of the Hermione, which is on its way to Yorktown.
Yorktown will be the replica’s first port-of-call and will arrive June 5 after traveling 3,819 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from Rochefort, France.
The ship departed April 18 and can be tracked by using Vessel Finder, a website that locates maritime vessels on a map using coordinates.
During the journey, crew members will be gathering climate data and water samples from the ocean for environmental use.
Once anchored at Riverwalk Landing, visitors and citizens will be able to climb aboard and tour the 210-foot, three-masted replica, which will be stationed in Yorktown until June 7, when it heads to Mt. Vernon.
York County officials have been busy planning myriad activities and events leading up to the arrival of the Hermione, from exhibits and panel discussions at Christopher Newport University, the Senior Center of York and the Yorktown Library to a gala at the Yorktown Victory Center.
The Hermione will make its grand entrance at the Yorktown waterfront at 8:30 a.m. June 5, and the festivities will continue from there.
Visitors can interact with Revolutionary era shipbuilders and sailors, listen to period and contemporary era concerts, experience food and craft exhibitions, see a photographic panel display of the history and reconstruction of the replica, learn about Lafayette’s role in the American Revolution and meet the crew.
In addition, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s ship Godspeed will be making an appearance. One of three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607, will be docked at the waterfront and will be available for tours.
On Friday, York County launched a website dedicated to the Hermione’s arrival, complete with information on the ship, a description on Lafayette’s role in Yorktown and a history of the area.
As hosts, York County has agreed to guarantee up to $200,000 to cover the $75,000 appearance fee and $125,000 logistical costs, which Interim County Administrator Mark Carter said include costs of traffic control, accommodations for the crew, internet access and more.
The funds will be taken from the carryover fund from the fiscal year 2015 budget, but Carter said there is a “strong promise” that many of the costs will be covered by the fundraising efforts of various organizations such as the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, the Watermen’s Museum and private donors.
After departing Yorktown, the ship will visit U.S. cities that played a part in the revolution, including Boston, where Lafayette — who helped defeat British General Lord Cornwallis at the Siege of Yorktown in September 1781 — arrived for the first time in 1780 at age 19 against the wishes of the French government; Baltimore, a city Lafayette visited several times in 1781 and 1784; and Philadelphia, where the Hermione docked in 1781.
A full list of events happening at Yorktown can be found here.