A flotilla of warships, pleasure craft and fireboats spraying showers of red, white and blue Saturday saluted the 200th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as the nation's first president.
As hundreds of thousands of spectators on land and afloat watched, the Presidential Flotilla moved into New York Harbor and paraded up the Hudson River in the shadow of Manhattan skyscrapers and the towering Palisades along the New Jersey Shore.The two-day festivities were to be climaxed Sunday with a re-creation of Washington's swearing-in ceremony on April 30, 1789, when New York City was the new nation's capital.
The $9.6 million extravaganza also includes a speech Sunday by President Bush, who with the first lady will occupy Washington's old pew at an ecumenical church service at St. Paul's Chapel.
One of the sights of Saturday was the aircraft carrier Forrestal steaming under the Verranzano Bridge with hundreds of its crew members spelling out "We Love New York" on its flight deck.
The parade of ships began with a line of 50 private vessels moving down the Hudson River, each flying a state flag, including orange ferries, a sleek white yacht, speedboats, a three-masted schooner, tugboats and sightseeing boats decked out in red, white and blue.
The Presidential Flotilla, led by the cruiser Ticonderoga, steamed across the Harbor and was given a booming 13-gun salute from the guns of the 1812 fort on Governor's Island, which the huge warship returned as the sound echoed and rechoed from Brooklyn to New Jersey.