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Santa Maria’s 20th anniversary afloat

Mary Posani / Lantern photographer

The discovery of the Americas in October 1492 was celebrated last weekend through a variety of activities.

The Santa Maria ship on the Scioto River is a replica of the one sailed by explorer Christopher Columbus. The 20th anniversary of the replica of the Santa Maria in Columbus was celebrated on Friday near Battelle Riverfront Park. An hour-long ceremony kicked off the free, outdoor event.

“The ship was christened here on Columbus Day in 1991,” said Linda Ketcham, executive director of the Santa Maria, Inc. “Since it is Columbus Day weekend, and in conjunction with the Italian Festival, we decided that we would be the opening celebration before the festival.”

The city of Columbus also hosted the Italian Festival over the weekend and the Columbus Day Parade on Sunday.

Families and guests brought picnic lunches and enjoyed performances by the Columbus State Brass Ensemble and Columbus State Gospel Vocal Ensemble. Additional music acts included the Hardtackers, an authentic shanties group that performed sing-a-long sailor tunes.

Mark Gist works for the city of Columbus as a part-time volunteer at the Santa Maria, but attended the event as a spectator. Gist remembers the christening of the ship 20 years ago.

“It was pouring rain right up until the ceremony,” Gist said. “We did a musket salute at the same time they broke the champagne bottle, and just as we got here the sun came out and it was beautiful and sunny just long enough for

the ceremony.”

The anniversary celebration, however, did not attract a large crowd.

“I would like to see more people down here, but it is very difficult to get people down here during the week when they’re working,” Ketcham said.

Gist, too, expressed disappointment with the turn out.

“I thought (the ceremony) was pretty good,” Gist said. “It would be nice if more people knew about the ship.”

The museum provides guided tours to educate guests about Columbus, its founding and explorers, said its website.

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