Cannon blasts, a parade of ships and emphatic chants of "Oorah!" by spectators whipped up by a jazzy band of U.S. Marines made it anchors aweigh for Navy Week in Buffalo on a sun-soaked Wednesday at Canalside.
Early afternoon anticipation grew among the hundreds who lined the Buffalo River for a glimpse of the recreation of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's historic two-masted tall ship, the Brig Niagara.
The buzz reached a crescendo when the ship made the turn from Lake Erie into Buffalo Harbor just after 2 p.m.
The Niagara was the fifth and final vessel to arrive in the Queen City for Navy Week.
"Tall ships have an aura all by themselves," said Jim McCloskey, a City of Tonawanda resident and tall ship aficionado who hails from a family of sea captains. "It's in the blood. You don't see these things every day."
Once the Niagara - recreated from some of the original 1813 timbers of the ship Perry used to win the Battle of Lake Erie - safely docked in port at Canalside, opening festivities were under way for the weeklong commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
Earlier Wednesday, the USS Hurricane, a 174-foot U.S. Navy patrol ship, arrived after a brief delay Tuesday in Detroit. It is docked closer to the river's mouth, just past a large 15-star, 15-stripe U.S. flag - known as the "Star Spangled Banner Flag" - that waves from Erie County's tallest flagpole at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park.
"As you can see, the Navy has landed," said Donald A. Alessi, chairman of the park's board of directors, during the opening ceremony.
Alessi was flanked by Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown; U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Gregory M. Nosal, commander of the Navy's Carrier Strike Group Two; Marta Moszczenska, Consul General of Canada; re-enactors portraying President James Madison and his wife, Dolly; and other dignitaries.
"Our presence here today speaks to our commitment to the City of Buffalo and to the role that Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier had in the War of 1812," Nosal said.
"The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is our opportunity to salute all the sailors and Marines who fought so gallantly in that conflict, who have fought in all the conflicts since then, and who are today deployed around the world, ensuring our freedom and preserving our way of life."
There was a short delay between the ceremony and the scheduled 3:15 p.m. boat parade, after an unidentified woman was struck and pinned beneath a motorized National Guard vehicle at Canalside.
Numerous Navy seamen jumped into service, pushing the vehicle onto its side to free the woman, according to Bob Clark, a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman, master chief.
The victim was treated at the scene by Navy and local personnel and taken to a local hospital with apparently non-life-threatening injuries.
Then a blast from Old Fort Niagara's cannon, brought to Canalside for the festivities, signaled for Buffalo's Edward M. Cotter fireboat to lead a parade of watercraft on the Buffalo River, while a U.S. Marine Corps band performed the Marine Corps hymn and jazzy renditions of "When the Saints Go Marching In," "Stand By Me" and other numbers.
Besides the Hurricane and the Niagara, other ships here include the U.S. Coast Guard's Katmai Bay, an ice-breaking tug; the USS De Wert Navy frigate; and Ville de Quebec, a Royal Canadian Navy frigate.