Fireworks, History On Tap For Canal Celebration

Canal Company president August Belmont (left) shakes hands with chief engineer William Barclay Parsons in 1914 after opening the sluice gate to allow waters from Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay to mix for the very first time. A huge centennial celebration of the Cape Cod Canal is set to begin Friday, July 25, and carry through Tuesday, July 29.
COURTESY BOURNE ARCHIVES - Canal Company president August Belmont (left) shakes hands with chief engineer William Barclay Parsons in 1914 after opening the sluice gate to allow waters from Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay to mix for the very first time. A huge centennial celebration of the Cape Cod Canal is set to begin Friday, July 25, and carry through Tuesday, July 29.

Bourne and the surrounding Upper Cape towns are primed for the many events that start today in celebration of the Cape Cod Canal Centennial. Residents and visitors have many choices on how and when to celebrate.  

Ship tours start today and make way for musical celebrations, canal parades, and historic re-enactments that lead to the ceremony marking what organizers are calling the “Canaliversary” on Tuesday, and of course the grand finale fireworks display. 

Friday, July 25
Starting today two ships are open for touring at the Massachusett’s Maritime Academy. The TS Kennedy, training ship for Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the US Coast Guard’s Eagle sailing ship, a training ship for officers, will both be open for tours from 10 AM to 5 PM. Both ships have a history with the canal and use the canal waters for maritime training exercises. The whaling ship Charles W. Morgan will also be docked at the academy and preparing to open for tours tomorrow.


Saturday, July 26

The Kennedy and Eagle training ships will again be open for tours from 1 to 7 PM. Also, the Charles W. Morgan will be open for tours from 9 AM to 5 PM.

The Cape Cod Canal is the last major stop on the Morgan’s 38th voyage.

A national historic landmark, the Morgan was built in 1841 and sailed on 37 voyages around the globe during an 80-year whaling career. This voyage was undertaken to raise awareness of America’s maritime heritage and to call attention to issues of ocean sustainability and conservation.

A dockside history exhibit will allow visitors to learn about the 173-year-old vessel, the important role of the whaling industry and how the Morgan and whaleships were an early connector of different cultures. Hands-on activities for visitors include knot-tying, handling samples of wood used in the restoration, and searching the Morgan’s crew lists for familiar names or hometown connections. Mystic Seaport interpreters will also be on hand to demonstrate the 19th-century maritime skills of a cooper, shipsmith, ropemaker, and whaleboat rower. There will also be live performances including sea chanteys, the interactive “Tale of a Whaler,” and a condensed rendition of the novel “Moby-Dick,” titled “Moby-Dick in Minutes.” Visitors will even have the opportunity to try their hand at rowing a whaleboat during select times.

Other dockside exhibit booths will be presented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Activities for children include Spouter, a 46-foot-long, life-sized, inflatable model of a sperm whale. Visitors can participate in a “What Bubbles Up?” activity by writing down their whale-related memory, question, or sketch and attaching it to a humpback whale sculpture. An exhibit for all ages will explain how the association interprets America’s maritime past, promotes ocean conservation, and engages in cutting-edge research. The exhibit will show how whales feed and what they feed on, and present videos that feature information on the National Marine Sanctuary System, whales, whale research, and whaling heritage.

The Morgan will be open Saturday and Sunday. The last boarding of the ship will take place at 4 PM both days. There is a suggested admission of $5 for those ages 6 and older.

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Also Saturday, July 26, the Bourne Society for Historic Preservation at the Briggs McDermott House, 22 Sandwich Road, will present two events for families and fans of the canal. The first will be an open house from 10 AM to 4 PM, featuring a model ship exhibit. The exhibit will feature ships which operated in the Cape Cod Canal 100 years ago up until today.  Some ships shown would have been threatened with ship wreck before the canal was built.

There will be models of the Charles W. Morgan, vintage tugboats, sailing vessels and yachts. One room is dedicated to Herreshoff 12-1/2 sloops designed 100 years ago.

The second event sponsored by the Bourne Society for Historic Preservation is “An Afternoon of Music” from noon to 4 PM, with folk and popular music from the past 100 years performed by local and professional musicians. The music genres represented will be Dixieland jazz, bluegrass, country and sea chanteys. The performers include Tom Hughes, Tom Goux, Jim Boyce, John Alden and Manny Dias. The names of the groups are Rum Soaked Crooks, Swamp Yankees, 3 Cats & a Dog, The Familiars and Tom’s Quartet. This music fest will also take place at the Briggs-McDermott house on Sandwich Road across from the library.

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The Bourne Historical Society will host Cape Cod Colonial Day featuring historical 17th- and 18th-century encampment re-enactments at the Aptucxet Museum Complex, 24 Aptucxet Road, from 11 AM to 3 PM, and host a bluegrass concert from 4 to 8PM.

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The Cape Cod Central Railroad Centennial Celebration trains ( or 888-797-7245) will also be running over the weekend and take passengers from the Buzzards Bay Depot, 70 Main Street, Buzzards Bay, and travel across the railroad bridge and along the canal at 11 AM and again at 3:30 PM. The fare is $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 2 to 12.  The fireworks train for Tuesday’s Caniliversary fireworks finale is sold out.

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A parade of lighted boats through the canal will wrap up the day at 9 PM.

Thirty boats have registered to participate. They will be decorated in lights and parade up and down the canal after dark. The parade starts at Massachusetts Maritime Academy and all of the boats will travel the length of the canal and back again. Spectators are welcome along the canal to view the parade. Viewing from the bridges will not be allowed.

Sunday, July 27

Tours of the training ships Kennedy and Eagle continue from 1 to 7 PM, The Morgan is open for its final day of tours, and dockside exhibits by Mystic Seaport and NOAA will be open from 9 AM to 5 PM. The Cape Cod Central Railroad Centennial Celebration Trains will also be running again, at 11 AM and 3:30 PM.

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The Aptucxet Trading Post & Museum, 24 Aptucxet Road, part of the Bourne Historical Society, will conduct a Pilgrim Colonial Sunday Service re-enactment at 7:30 AM. The nondenominational historical service will be followed by a brunch that is open to all.

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Friends of Scussett Beach will celebrate the canal centennial with a Family Fun Day at Scusset Beach. Activities will include face painting, arts and crafts, fire trucks on display, and children’s games.

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The Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game will take place at Upper Cape Regional Technical School. The game starts at 6:05 PM. Tickets are $5.

Monday, July 28

The Charles W. Morgan will depart from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy docks and the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel will arrive and prepare for Tuesday tours. Sail times determined by weather.

Tuesday, July 29, Canaliversary

There will be tours of the 17th-century tall ship Kalmar Nyckel at Massachusetts Maritime Academy from 10 AM to 4 PM and Mystic tall ship tours from 9 AM to 5 PM at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and the training ships Kennedy and Eagle will be open from 9 AM to 5 PM.

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The official 100th anniversary commemoration ceremony —the Canaliversary—will begin at 1 PM at Buzzards Bay Park and feature a ceremony with speeches by visiting dignitaries offering tributes to the men and women who helped to construct the canal and bridges. The Cape Cod Canal Festival Youth Orchestra with special guest Siobhan Magnus will perform.

Buzzards Bay Park will be filled with vendors and activities for the whole family including the opportunity to receive a special one day postal mark from the US Postal Service to celebrate the occasion. Lawn and children’s games,  engineering activities, food and retail vendors, antique cars and several bands will be on hand to help families celebrate.

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A tugboat parade is scheduled to start at 4 PM. The parade starts at Mass. Maritime Academy, goes the full length of the canal, turns at the Sandwich end and comes back through to Mass. Maritime. Tugs participate on a volunteer basis. About a dozen boats are anticipated to attend depending on weather and tugs availability.

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The fireworks finale planned for 9 PM will conclude the Canaliversary celebration.

The fireworks are sponsored by David Mugar and B4 Productions and will feature a special pyrotechnic display off of the railroad bridge. The majority of fireworks will be set off from barges in Buzzards Bay.


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