More than a dozen historic-replica sailing ships will parade into the Port of Los Angeles this week, kicking off what will likely be the biggest tall ship festival ever held in San Pedro.
The last time a tall ships festival was held in the port was in 2008.
Organizers expect 330,000 people to pour through the waterfront from Wednesday through Sunday for Tall Ships L.A. 2014. Among the more unusual features of the event: at six stories tall, the world's biggest rubber duck.
“We're getting a lot of questions about the duck,” said Marifrances Trivelli, director of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum next to the Downtown Harbor plaza where the duck will be stationed during the festival. “ ‘Is the duck real?' ‘Can you ride on it?' ‘How big is the duck?' People are kind of fascinated by it.”
The duck is part of Florentijn Hofman's Rubber Duck project and this will be its West Coast debut
On tap throughout the festival will be berthside ship tours and day sails, designed to provide visitors with a taste of what seafaring life was like in eras past.
Shoreside activities — general festival hours are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday — will include live music and other entertainment on four stages, a privateer encampment, cannon demonstrations, sail training, craft projects, food and beverages.
There even will be an outdoor movie, with “The Little Mermaid” to be projected onto the large sail of the Freda B, a San Francisco-based 78-foot-long classic schooner, at 8 p.m. Friday.
The main festival venue will stretch between the new Downtown Harbor plaza and inlet at Sixth Street and Harbor Boulevard north to the World Cruise Center near the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Most of the ships will be berthed along that area, just north of the USS Iowa.
The S.S. Lane Victory Merchant Marine vessel also will be towed Tuesday from its home berth in the outer harbor to join with the tall ships venue.
The festival grounds will be gated, so visitors need to buy tickets either in advance — at www.TicketFly.com or by calling 877-4-FLY-TIX — or when they arrive if they're willing to wait in what could be long lines. A single-day dockside festival pass is $7. Other ticket packages vary.
Wednesday's opening 2 p.m. parade into the harbor — led by the duck — will feature all of the ships sailing into the Main Channel, their crews, many in historic uniform, sitting atop the tall masts.
Several parking areas are set up to handle the expected influx.
“I have 80 kegs of beer ready,” said James Brown, who will be among shoreside vendors with his San Pedro Brewing Co. brews on tap. “It's going to be nuts.”