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USS Intrepid Celebrates All Things American for the Fourth

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2006 – The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City is celebrating the Fourth of July with its third annual Red, White and Blue Festival.

Located in Hudson River Park, the Intrepid will offer all types of patriotic activities between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on July 2, Denise Downing, the museum's director of public relations and event programming, said. Visitors to the museum will enjoy make-and-take arts and crafts, temporary tattoos, as well as patriotic coloring sheets and puzzles as part of the education station.

The education station is being expanded from last year's offering, and museum educators will be on hand to answer questions, Downing said. "They'll be ... really, really, working with the families who sit down to take part in this to answer any questions and teach them the importance of Independence Day," she added.

In addition to the museum's usual displays and the education station, there will be an apple pie eating contest and prizes for the most patriotic outfit.

The pie-eating contest, held on the flight deck at noon, is a big deal that draws the attention of professional "eaters", Downing said. "We have to, unfortunately, tell them that it's more for fun."

Contestants compete in four age categories - under 5, 6-11, 12-17 and over 18. The object is to see who can eat a slice of pie the fastest, but there's a twist.

"We give each of them ... a slice of pie and they have to eat it with no hands," Downing said. "In order to win, they have to finish their slice of pie, take their plate and turn it upside down over their head.

"The first plate to hit the first head is the first-prize winner," she added. Contestants are allowed to use their hands to get the plate from the table to their head.

Prizes are usually awarded to the three fastest eaters.

To make the patriotic festival complete there also will be patriotic music. Visitors will hear everything from "America the Beautiful" to Tom Petty's "American Girl." It's the national anthem, however, that Downing said is the best part of the music.

Downing said the weekend, part of the Intrepid's Summer Salute to Heroes, is a very patriotic weekend aboard the museum. Fireworks and barbecues are still big, but people also are looking for something educational and even a little heroic. That fits with the Intrepid's mission of "Honoring our heroes, educating the public, inspiring our youth," she added.

"We see a lot more people taking road trips with their families and staying within the country to visit those sites that are important to our nation's history," Downing said. "We've noticed we've become a really top destinations for families (during the Fourth of July weekend)."

The Summer Salute to Heroes began with Fleet Week during Memorial Day weekend and will conclude with firefighter, Coast Guard and police appreciation weekends throughout August, Downing said. It ends with the Hometown Hero Essay Contest that invites residents of the tri-state area to nominate their hometown hero in one of four categories.

The deadline for the contest has not been decided yet but will be posted on the Intrepid's Web site when it is, Downing said.

A ticket to tour the museum, a World War II aircraft carrier, grants visitors access to the festival as well. Admission for active duty servicemembers is free.

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