July 18, 2015
On beautiful Penobscot Bay, Hermione can be seen approaching the historic port of Castine, Maine on July 14, 2015. Photo Credit: Aaron Paley
During Hermione Welcome Ceremonies in Castine, Maine, from left to right, Jack MacDonald, President, Castine Historical Society, Boston French Consul General Fabien Fieschi, Maine Governor Paul R. LePage, and Castine Selectman Gus Basile, on July 14, 2015. Photo Credit: Aaron Paley
Marching in the colorful parade on Castine, Maine’s Main Street on July 14, 2015, is Miles Young, far left in blue, double-breasted blazer, President of Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America, Inc., as part of festivities to celebrate the arrival of the original Hermione in 1780. Photo Credit: Aaron Paley
On Bastille Day 2015, the Hermione was welcomed by thousands of people in the small town of Castine, Maine – both residents, visiting tourists, and, in particular, French speakers from both Maine and neighboring Quebec. The day started overcast and foggy – and the huge parade of around 100 ships, mostly sailing ships, which had set out to meet her in Penobscot Bay, found themselves lost from each other, sometimes with visibility of up to 50 feet. Then suddenly, Hermione emerged from the mist – dramatically. She led the parade to the harbor side, where large and enthusiastic crowds cheered, with the sound of the two French naval bagpipers who have traveled up to Castine from New York on board, and singing from the crew.
A formal ceremony of medal giving by the town was carried out in the center of Castine, and then a parade was formed down Main Street. It was led by three youngsters, including young Eric, who was dressed as Lafayette. There was a superb float created shaped like the Hermione, which was the centerpiece of the procession.
At the dockside, the formal welcome ceremony took place. Jack MacDonald, President of the Castine Historical Society, introduced the proceedings, followed by Miles Young, President, Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America, Inc. Miles paid tribute to the different Hermiones – the Hermione of Rochefort, a creator of employment; the Hermione of the crew – at which there was huge and sustained applause; and the Hermione of Castine. As he put it, “We have left the best to last”.
Next, Young welcomed the Mayor of St. Castin, France, who represented the link between the founder of Castine, the Baron Castin and Castine today. Castine also represented the first mission of the Hermione after dropping Lafayette in Boston, at the command of the Massachusetts government. The Governor of Maine, Paul R. LePage, spoke of the importance of the French heritage in Maine, of which he himself is a product. Next, the Vice-Chief of the Penobscot Nation, Bill Thompson, spoke of the first nation’s own friendship of France. Then, Boston Consul General of France, Fabien Fieschi, in turn flew to the town and saluted the residents of Castine for their fantastic welcome.
Miles also paid tribute to Helen Miller, the Castine resident who has helped mobilize the whole town and community in support of the visit of the Hermione, and David Adams, the historian whose idea it had first been. Last but not east, Miles thanked the U.S. Navy Band Northeast for their fantastic playing
In the evening, the town organized a Bastille Day dinner, where VIPs mingled with the crew in an atmosphere of great festivity. The following day, the 15th, Mount Vernon came to Castine – with a guest lecture by Curt Viebranz of Mount Vernon, followed by a pier side lunch. Meantime, the exhibition that Castine Historical Society entitled “The French Frigate and the British Fort” did very brisk business, reminding people that the original Hermione had actually been here, and had played a role against a potential southwards march of British forces from what would ultimately become the Canadian border.