Provincetown 400 Commemoration to Include Mayflower II Visit

PROVINCETOWN – The Provincetown 400 Task Force officially kicked off the countdown to 2020 commemorative activities yesterday formally announcing the inclusion of the Mayflower II.

The replica vessel which is owned and maintained by Plimoth Plantation is used as an attraction and educational resource.

The ship, which first launched in 1956 and is currently being restored, will sail to Provincetown for a week in September 2020.

Plimoth Plantation Deputy Director Richard Pickering says bringing the replica ship back to the place of its original landing for the 400th anniversary is important.

“American liberties and self-government began here,” Pickering said. “Virginia had the House of Burgesses, but what happened here in Provincetown is the first expression of men wanting to self-govern and creating a guiding document. It’s critically important the ship be here to get that engraved in the American memory.”

The Mayflower II will travel from Plymouth to Provincetown and will be docked in Provincetown Harbor.

During her stay in Provincetown Harbor, guests will be able to board and tour the Mayflower II. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants will also participate in a re-enactment of the Mayflower Compact during their visit.

“The deeply emotional connection of the ancestors watching those who potentially might be descendants themselves doing this is going to have tremendous power,” Pickering said.

Susan Belekewicz, the executive director of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, said having the vessel in Provicetown during their visit is a dream come true.

“We weren’t sure we were going to be able to make it all happen,” Belekewicz said. “There are a lot of logistics as you can imagine trying to move the ship around and have it come to port here in Provincetown.”
Belekewicz said it is important to make Provincetown a focus of the descendants.

“We’re making it a focus so that we all get back to when it really started and that was with the signing of the Mayflower Compact,” she said.
Belekewicz said she is not sure how many descendants will be coming for the 400th anniversary commemoration.

“Anecdotally, we are hearing that everyone is saving their pennies to come,” she said. “I think that they know this is a once in a lifetime experience.”
She said many descendants consider Plymouth the mecca, but that could shift to Provincetown after the celebration.

The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum is leading and running the Provincetown 400 planning group.

PMPM Executive Director David Weidner said the Mayflower II’s stay will be the signature event of the year-long celebration.

“We are indeed pretty happy about having that in our harbor,” Weidner said.

The Mayflower II is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Provincetown on September 7th or 8th in 2020.

“We will have opportunities for reenactments of the Mayflower Compact and are hoping for visits from dignitaries,” Weidner said.

A gala program is scheduled for Saturday, September 12, 2020.

Thousands of descendants are expected to visit the harbor on Sunday morning September 13, 2020. Many will fill the ship and sail out into the harbor. A memorial service will also be held at the monument.

Mayflower events will finish off on Monday, September 14, 2020 with a sunrise champagne toast at 5:30 a.m. The vessel will then depart the harbor to travel back to Plymouth.

The vessel is currently at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut for major renovations.

Professional shipbuilders are working in tandem with experts from Plymouth Plantation’s maritime department to replace timbers, planks, structural frames, and beams in the ships first major renovation since it was launched 60 years ago. Much of the handiwork is being done at Plymouth Plantation’s artisan shops before being sent to Mystic Seaport where the ship sits in dry-dock.

“She looks beautiful,” Pickering said. “In fact, I think she may be prettier than she was in 1957.”

The project is being funded through donations from individuals, both local and otherwise, and from a number of area businesses who are supported in large part by the tourism dollars brought in by the Mayflower II.

The ship is expected to return home to Plymouth by fall of 2019. Roughly 25 million people have toured the Mayflower replica.

The Provincetown 400 Task Force also announced a special lighting date for the monument in 2020. The monument, which is typically lit on the evening before Thanksgiving, will be lit on November 11. That is the day the Mayflower Pilgrims arrived in Provincetown in 1620.

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