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Welcome, sailors!

Buffalo Navy Week officially kicks off today with free tours of the four military vessels in town for the celebration, a concert by the U.S. Marine Corps Brass Band, sailors in 1812 period costume at Canalside and a boat parade.

The U.S, Navy frigate, USS De Wert, arrived at about 4 p.m. Tuesday and is now docked at Gateway Terminal in Lackawanna. The Canadian vessel, HMCS Ville de Quebec, also arrived and is also at Gateway Terminal.

Two other ships, the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking tug Katmai Bay and the USS Hurricane, a Navy patrol ship, will be docked at Canalside today.

Tours of all four ships are free and begin at noon today. To get on the De Wert or Ville de Quebec, visitors must take a shuttle from the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park.

At Canalside, members of the Coast Guard will do a presentation in 1812 period costumes from noon to 5 p.m. Also members of the U.S. Constitution will perform period gun deck presentations from 1 to 4 p.m.

At noon, the U.S. Marines Brass Band will perform on the front ramp of the Downtown Central Library at 1 Lafayette Square.

At 2 p.m. today the Brig Niagara tall ship is set to arrive at Canalside, next to the Naval Park. Tours of the tall ship will be held Thursday through Sunday - tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for children 12 and under. Children under 4 are free. A limited number of tickets to sail on the vessel are available for Sept. 17 at flagshipniagara.org.

At 3 p.m. today, an opening ceremony will be held on the main stage at Canalside with remarks by Rear Adm. Gregory M. Nosal of the U.S. Navy, Mayor Byron W. Brown, Niagara 1812 Bicentennial Legacy Council CEO Brian Merritt and local dignitaries. The ceremony will include an exchange of gifts, 1812 reenactors and the singing of both the U.S. and Canadian national anthems.

Following the ceremony, there will be a "Greet the Fleet" boat parade in Buffalo River at Canalside. Old Fort Niagara's cannon will fire to begin the boat parade which will be led by the Edward M. Cotter Fireboat and the Navy's operational support center's patrol boat. About 100 local boaters are expected to participate. Registration for boaters to participate is $50 per vessel.

Those who don't have a vote can buy tickets for $35 per person to ride the Miss Buffalo. Tickets are available at the Naval gift shop or by calling 847-1773, Ext. 10.

All events associated with the military, including tours of the military vessels, are free. There is an admission charge for other events, including entry into the Naval park museum and tours of the tall ship.