Alexandria's spruced-up Oronoco Bay Park will be the site this weekend of three days of music, food, arts, crafts and visiting sailing vessels during the fifth annual Waterfront Festival.
Beginning at 3 p.m. tomorrow, a fleet of 16 invited ships will be tied up at the new city docks behind the Torpedo Factory at King and Union streets in Old Town. Among those expected are the Providence from Newport, R.I., a 110-foot sloop that is a copy of John Paul Jones' first command; the New Way, a 130-foot schooner from Philadelphia, and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mohawk, a relic from World War II that will be open for tours.
The festival, organized to benefit the Alexandria Red Cross, is a celebration of the "seaport . . . at the heart of Alexandria's economy and spirit," said Mayor James P. Moran in a letter welcoming visiting ship's captains.
Events will continue tomorrow, with jazz by the local Peeble's Pebbles and the Buck Creek Jazz Band from 6 p.m. until dark. Fireworks are scheduled for nightfall, around 9:30 p.m.
On Saturday, city officials and clerics will hold the traditional "blessing of the fleet" at 10 a.m. to begin the festival.
Events throughout the weekend include harbor tours on the Elana, Queen of Hearts paddlewheeler, leaving from behind the Torpedo Factory every half hour; nautical exhibits such as the University of Maryland "Touch Tank" with live sea specimens from the Chesapeake Bay, a "haunted sunken ship" tour, scrimshaw carvers, knot tying and ship model-making; a juried craft show; a health fair tent and bloodmobile, and special children's games and pony rides. Alexandria's restaurants and other vendors will sell international foods from two tents.
Special Saturday events include an 11 a.m. puppet show, 1:30 and 3 p.m. appearances by Ronald McDonald, and an 8 p.m. pops concert by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra to be followed by fireworks.
Sunday activities start at 8 a.m. with a "Run-A-Cross" eight kilometer run through the streets of Old Town. Those interested in competing must register by 7 a.m. at the United Way Headquarters at 701 North Fairfax St., where the race will begin and end. A $10 donation is required to participate.
From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, a benefit hair "Cut-a-Thon" will be held at the festival site, offering cuts or styling for a $10 donation to the Red Cross.
Old-fashioned melodies will ring through Sunday afternoon, with music by the Alexandria Harmonizers, the Sweet Adelines and Laurel Blaydes and Old Friends. After a 2 p.m. appearance by the Baltimore Orioles' mascot, the visiting vessels will sail out of the Alexandria harbor, bound for the Fourth of July Statue of Liberty celebration in New York City.