Somerville’s 2016 Tiny Tall Ships Event Union Square

Photos by Frank Santangelo 

By William Tauro 

The Somerville Arts Council and Greg Cook, the fellow behind last year’s “Pity Party,” presented “THE TINY TALL SHIPS FESTIVAL” in Somerville’s Union Square this past Saturday.


Admission was free and the festival was a celebration of everything tiny and nautical for people of all ages. Small ships, sea monsters and other floating sculptures were bobbing in kiddie pools spread across Union Square. Children and grown-ups were able to make their own tiny boats to race in temporary lagoons. Pirates and mermaids attended. Plus the Somerville Arts Council also hosted a tattoo contest where the public came to show off their permanent or temporary tattoos, stories for children, sand castle building, a pirate-themed obstacle course, seafood, crafts and nautical/pirate/mermaid/fishy tunes. Costumes were welcome and encouraged!

Somerville’s own Sandcastle Matt Kaliner, who’s internet famous for making sandcastles that look something kind of like “what happens when lightning hits sand,” presented a demonstration of his sand-sculpting technique. There was extra sand available for festival-goers to try sand castle making. Kids and grown-ups were able to learn about the engineering of boats when they build their own vessels with the USS Constitution Museum and Rachel Mello and then sail them in temporary lagoons made by Somerville artist Hilary Scott. CrossFit Somerville offered a pirate-themed obstacle course and a Play a ring-toss game with a narwhal’s horn created by Kerri McGill.

Storytelling for children was at 3:45 and 4:45 p.m. Loreto Paz Ansaldo offered a bilingual Spanish and English tale for children and helped guests make origami paper boats. Bharat Babies, a Somerville publisher of children’s books about India’s heritage, offered storytelling by Amy Maranville, author of “Padmini is Powerful” and other picture books, and boat building for toddlers to pre-K kids. 
Kiddie pools were filled with a solar-powered sailing ship by Mitch Ryerson; sea monsters by Emily Arkin, Dan Moynihan and Mango Island; boats by Fish McGill and Randy Regier; a village flooded by global warming created by Kari Percival; and something wonderfully nautical by Ktron. Drabby the Sad Clown (Tom Bush) in pirate attire and mermaid Jessicalee will make appearances.
The Somerville Ukulele Club and Below the Gaff performed sea shanties and other fishy music.
Heather Kapplow invited visitors to write climate change notes in bottles. Alex Salsberg drew pirate caricatures of visitors. Fiber artist Amanda Cook and oceanographer Amanda Babson presented a tapestry illustrating the effects of global warming. Citizens Climate Lobby presents a demonstration of how melting arctic ice is raising sea levels.
Several Union Square restaurants offered seafood specials and Honeycomb Creamery that sold nautical ice cream. 
This event was originally called the “Tiny Tall Ships Festival,” but was renamed the “Tiny Ships Festival” as a result of alleged intellectual property rights violation. but they think they’ve worked that out, so they’re now the “Tiny Tall Ships Festival” again. Huzzah!


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