Tall ships have been sailing in and out of Washington on their way to the Fourth of July ceremonies in New York City, but not all the vessels glide into D.C. on the waters of the Potomac River.
The Prairie Ship Liberty -- a rendition of a frigate made of multicolored sails from across the country -- was trucked into the District last week to be erected on the Mall between 14th and 15th streets. The ship, nearing completion yesterday with its sails turning in the winds near the Washington Monument, stands as tall as an 11-story building and is as long as two football fields.
The ship is the brainchild of Naj Wikoff, an artist from Lake Placid, N.Y.
Wikoff and his ship began their journey in Portland, Ore. At each stopping point across the country, a multicolored sail was added by that region. The sails are hung on poles made from Douglas fir trees. The poles are anchored into the ground.
"On the West Coast sail, the colors are dark purple and red," Wikoff said. "For Denver, Colo., the sails have warmer colors -- big reds and yellows -- which represent the wide open spaces of the central part of the country. The East Coast's vitality is seen in the 'hot' colors -- vibrant lavenders and pinks."
Wikoff estimated that the project will cost about $700,000, mostly in donated services and goods.
District residents, Wikoff said, will be able to see the "full spread" of the ship's sails. "This is the real unveiling."
Although Wikoff designed the sails to form the shape of the ship, the sails were actually fashioned by people in each region visited by the ship.
"It is their artwork," he said.
Senior citizens from the D.C. Department of Recreation last week prepared a signal flag for the ship.
The ship is scheduled to be moved Saturday from the District to New York. However, Wikoff said the project is experiencing financial problems. "We need help. We've had rough sailing weather and our sails are down. We need contributions."
The ship is to conclude its journey in Paris in October when it is to be erected next to the Eiffel Tower as a thank-you gift from the United States for the Statue of Liberty, Wikoff said.