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Maritime Festival canceled for 2022; Festival of Sail still planned for July 15-17

News File Photo Jeff Gray, superintendent of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, is seen at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena.

ALPENA — The annual Maritime Festival normally held on the Fourth of July will not be held this year, but an exciting new festival is coming up July 15 to 17.

On April 25, the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center opened its doors for the first time since March 2020. As the visitor center for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the GLMHC greets youth groups, scientists, residents, and tourists throughout the year, surpassing more than 80,000 visits annually.

Every year since federal designation in 2000, the sanctuary has hosted the Maritime Festival, a free community event encouraging visitors to dive deeper into our rich maritime history. After an extended closure due to the pandemic, the sanctuary regretfully announces that the 2022 July 4 Maritime Festival and Cardboard Boat Regatta will not be held.

“We simply did not have enough time to plan such a major event,” said Sanctuary Superintendent Jeff Gray. “The staff, volunteers, and partners look forward to making the 2023 event the best yet.”

Although the Maritime Festival is canceled, the Festival of Sail is still scheduled for July 15 to 17 at the GLMHC. In addition to historic tall ships from around the world, visitors can view the world’s largest rubber duck, which measures 6 stories tall. For more information about the Festival of Sail, visit alpena.festofsail.com.

The GLMHC is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, July 4. Glass bottom boat tours are also offered daily, including July 4, at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. Lady Michigan glass bottom boat tickets are available for purchase at alpenashipwrecktours.com or by calling 888-469-4696.

The sanctuary’s visitor center, the GLMHC, is free and open year-round. The center is a popular destination for residents and visitors of all ages, allowing the public to experience and appreciate the estimated 200 shipwrecks in and around Thunder Bay in an area known as “Shipwreck Alley.” Visitors can fish, paddle, snorkel, or dive the wrecks in the sanctuary.

The 4,300-square-mile Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary works to protect the Great Lakes and their rich history. Through research, education, and community involvement, the sanctuary and its partners are working to ensure that future generations can learn from and enjoy Thunder Bay’s irreplaceable underwater treasures.

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