Jul 302015

Blending the past, present and future, our Heritage Days celebration spans Aug. 1-9 with events featuring food, fun, and activities for all ages. There are nearly 40 different events throughout the festival, some on different days, some at the same time. You really do need to keep the URL of the Calendar of Events for Heritage Days bookmarked on your home computer, tablet or cell phone.

Natl parkThere is no better example to prove this point than the kick-off event: The 2015 Salem Maritime Festival will be held on the historic wharves at Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Saturday, August 1st from 10am – 4pm.

In its 27th year, the Salem Maritime Festival offers an exciting array of free family fun, including live music, free harbor cruises, craft demonstrations, costumed re-enactors and much more! Kids will enjoy a variety of fun activities including radio-controlled boats, a “Muck Walk” and touch tanks with their favorite marine critters.

A flotilla of visiting vessels including a U.S. Coast Guard 47′ Motor Life Boat, the Schooner Fame, the Schooner Ardelle and the motorized vessel Endeavor will all be participating in the festival. A fleet of kayaks from Salem Kayak will provide attendees with the opportunity to paddle and row Salem Harbor. Friendship of Salem, Salem’s own replica of a 1797 merchant vessel, will be open to the public and will offer a National Park Service Junior Ranger Program for children.

Free 90-minute harbor cruises aboard Fame, Ardelle and Endeavor will be offered throughout the afternoon by lottery. The cruises are scheduled for 12:00, 12:15, 12:30, 1:45, 2:00, 2:15pm.

  • Exhibitors and demonstrators at this year’s event include:
    Salem Kayaks
    Norumbega Canoe Club
    USS Constitution & US Navy
    Marlinspike Sailor of Marblehead
    Musician Larry Young
    R.P Raiseles Cooperage
    Essex Shipbuilding Museum
    Marine Modelers Club of New England
    Salem Sound Coastwatch
    Historic New England
    Cat Cove Marine Labs
    Division of Marine Fisheries
    U.S. Coast Guard & U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
    Peabody Essex Museum
    House of the Seven Gables
    Witch House / Corwin House
    Salem Beautification Committee
    Salem Zouaves
    Shipwrecks of New England
    And more…

Recall what we wrote at the outset, that at times during the Festival some events would be running concurrently? While the wharf area will witness all things maritime, farther down the road, the Salem Willows will play host to not one, not two, but three other events on Saturday!

A Bridgin G.A.P.S. concert will present performances ranging from local and non-local recording artists, live bands, dance groups, poets and others from noon until 6pm. The Bridgin G.A.P.S. goal is to provide a festive, entertaining and educational platform for the local community to gather and celebrate in a safe and positive environment.

At the same time you can attend The Firemen’s Muster  at 12:30 pm where crews will compete to throw the longest stream of water with an antique hand pumped fire engine. Come and see a 19th century sport that is being kept alive in the 21st century by a bunch of historic preservationists who obviously like to get wet!

And Clown Day will be also be happening, Saturday 11am – 3pm where clowns will be on hand all day to make balloon figures for your children, do some creative face painting using your kids as the canvas and then give a special performance at 2:30pm.

As stated in the headline, the Heritage Days Festival is a variety show— and we only told you about the FIRST day. More in upcoming blogs, and don’t forget to bookmark the calendar URL.

Jul 252015

Let’s repeat three words. LARGEST. SAILING. SALEM. Our seaport community was a key player in the early days of this country’s maritime exploration and trading. And it’s nice to see that our connection to the water continues as more than 400 junior sailors from around the country are expected to participate in the 2015 United States Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA) Optimist Dinghy New England Championship in Salem, Aug. 4-6 from Winter Island.

SailingThis is the largest junior sailing regatta in the United States, with sailors between the ages of 9 – 14. You noticed we didn’t say “sailors” to qualify the reference. These young people are every part of the word.

As an example just look at Sail Salem, which is the local host. It offers an educational program for children that promotes positive life skills and values through the sport of sailing. Founded in 2008, Sail Salem has introduced sailing to over 1,000 children from Salem and surrounding towns.

And it’s not just a one-time summer thing. Children have grown up through the program, from beginner, to intermediate sailor, to counselor in training, to sailing coach. The majority of a junior instructors are former students of Sail Salem.

According to Sail Salem, “Lessons are conducted in Salem Harbor off Winter Island to bring the love of sailing to many children who would not have had the opportunity to be on a boat.”

Adults are also encouraged to sail and evening lessons for all levels are available throughout the summer.

No wonder the 2015 Regatta is being held here. Previous competitions have been held in Newport, Rhode Island, and Portland, Maine

What does this have to do with the Downtown District, which is what we usually talk about? We expect a sizable percentage of those 400 sailors and families to explore Salem either before or after the regatta. We would like them to feel welcome. Spectators interested in watching the races from the water will find regatta tours at Sea Shuttle and Mahi Mahi Harbor Cruises.  Charter boats are available through McLaughlin Boat Works and Zim Sailing. Regatta accommodations options can be found at Salem.org.

One other thing. Sail Salem is still looking for volunteers to help with some of the on-land activities. Contact Pat Connolly-Atkins at pat@sailsalem.org if you would be interested in helping.

Sail Salem and the 2015 USODA New England Championship Regatta are sponsored by Cabot Wealth Management.

Complete regatta information can be found at SailSalem.org.

Jul 202015

Window Box 2015Windows have an artistic value beyond the utilitarian of keeping cold out and letting fresh air in. Walk down any street in Salem and you’ll see windows as the backdrop and support for creative & colorful flowered window boxes. To honor the businesses and homes that go the extra mile to help beautify Salem, the City has been holding an annual Window Box Competition since 1993.

Modesty aside, did you work hard on your window box design and placement? Then you deserve recognition and an award.  The Salem Beautification Committee, along with The Salem Garden Club and Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, have issued an open invitation for submissions.

Or if you are very creative, you’ve got time to make one very quickly for the Window Box Competition.

Wood of course is the traditional material with which to build a window box. But what kind of wood should be used? For example you might want to remove pine, which rots relatively quickly (and we do get a lot of rain & snow) from your options. And add cedar or redwood because of their rot-resistant qualities.

Of course people have gone away from wood totally with fiberglass, brick, metal, vinyl, and cellular PVC!

But time is running out! Registration for the Window Box Competition concludes Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Judging will take place July 25-31. Then the Awards Ceremony & Reception will be held during Heritage Days on Thursday, August 6th at 5:30 pm. in the garden of the Brookhouse, which is located at 180 Derby St.

For more information, rules and to register, call 978-619-5676. Or email: etalkowsky@salem.com with the subject: Window Box Competition registration. Please include your name, street address and telephone number.

The mission of the Salem Beautification Committee is to assist the City in developing and pursuing initiatives that promote the beautification of the City.  The goal of the Committee is to create civic pride and to motivate the City’s diverse population to participate in the beautification process.

(Photo courtesy of the Salem Beautification Committee Facebook page)

Jul 172015

CULTURE: The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group — The Oxford Dictionaries

Salem Culture FestIf you want to not only see but experience those words being put into action, come to the Salem Common on July 18th and/or 19th for the 9th Annual Salem CultureFest!

This free admission festival invites, encourages and gives opportunity to the many cultures of the area (the Salem community alone has over 15 different cultures) to come together in celebration of their diversity and unity through drumming, dancing, crafts, art, food, and entertainment. Click here for the full schedule

Each year the Salem CultureFest, produced by A3D, Inc., a non-profit organization of musicians, volunteers, and activists, draws around 2,000 people from all over New England.

This year they will have one central location for stage performers by the Salem Common Gazebo, plus a family-friendly parade each day of the weekend. And, especially for the kids: moon bounce, face painting, pony rides, and more.

Festival organizers indicate that they will also have “over 50 vendors participating with wares ranging from framed art and photos, several types of jewelry, pottery, balloons, toys, carvings, candles, hand-loomed scarves, food, shirts, hats, and more. Most of what you will find at this festival is handmade, available directly from the artists who crafted them.”

SCFSalem CultureFest proceeds support education & medical supplies in Senegal, West Africa; A3D has thus far raised over $30,000 to provide new sewing machines, desks, and computers to Senegalese women and school children. This year a special goal has been set to raise $3,000 to specifically address medical supply needs for early 2016.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Salem Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Come to the Salem Common and let your five senses each experience the diversity that the Salem CultureFest has to offer, 10am – 8pm on July 18th and 10am – 6 pm on July 18th.

Jul 132015

hitchbotIf you’ve driven a vehicle for enough years or miles, then you’ve seen all kinds of hitchhikers. Young, old, attractive and scarey. One thing they had in common was that they were all human. But setting off across America soon will be hitch-Bot, a robot hitching its way across America (he made it through Canada last year). And the launch party will be on Thursday, July 16, 6-9pm at our own Peabody Essex Museum during PEM/PM, the museum’s monthly evening party series.

In celebration of the season, the theme for July is Take Back Summer, with an opportunity to rediscover classic and wild ways to have fun, while also taking advantage of after-hours access to museum exhibitions. And what better tie-in is a summer road-trip?

On Thursday, July 16, the party-going public will also hear from hitchBOT’s co-creators. The next day hitchBOT will bid them farewell on a nearby highway as it begins its adventure by putting up its thumb to ask for a ride. The final destination is the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

hitchBOT is an outgoing and charismatic robot that began hitchhiking in July 2014. In less than four weeks, hitchBOT charmed its way into rides across Canada, depending on the help of kind strangers. hitchBOT cannot move by itself — except for its hitchhiking thumb — but can converse thanks to Cleverscript speech technology, which allows it to answer questions about where it comes from or its favorite pastimes.

hitchBOT’s family consists of a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of researchers from the fields of visual arts, engineering, computer science and communication. The project was originally co-designed by Dr. David Harris Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University (Hamilton), and Dr. Frauke Zeller, assistant professor in the School of Professional Communication at Ryerson University (Toronto), to see whether robots could trust humans.

People picked HB up and took it to bars, diners, concerts and then left it on the side of the road for someone else to take it further on down the road.

For example, hitchBOT hung out with the British Columbia rock band The Wild, which took it to their next performance. Another time it was taken to a wedding.

No one broke it, defaced it or stole it.

“hitchBOT was very well received as it made its way across Canada, Germany and the Netherlands – proving that robots can indeed trust humans,” said Dr. Zeller. “Given that hitchBOT is built out of a bucket, we thought it would be only natural if we let it have a bucket list for this exciting new adventure.”

hitchbot bucket listThe list includes Times Square in New York City, Millennium Park in Chicago, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

In the PEM blog Connected, the creators commented “In the case of hitchBOT, we have launched a type of robotic proxy, set forth not to explore the surface of Mars, but to explore a cultural terrain here on earth that is underwritten by evolved human curiosity, empathy and altruism. hitchBOT literally rides from place to place on a tide of goodwill, developing a personal history of face-to-face interpersonal interactions and a trail of social media participation. ”

Fans are encouraged to follow hitchBOT’s journey at hitchbot.me, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. hitchBOT also invites users to share their hitchhiking stories and pictures using #hitchbot on Twitter and Instagram.

PEM’s evening parties, with music and dance performances, lectures and art-making stations take place on the 3rd Thursday of the month. Admission is free to PEM members and Salem residents (with ID), while nonmembers pay $10 at the door. There will be a cash bar and special small plates menu items available courtesy of the Hawthorne Hotel.

(Cover photo courtesy David Harris Smith)