- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2006

NORFOLK — The Godspeed’s summer tour to generate good will for events marking the 400th anniversary of Jamestown did just that, organizers said yesterday, with the number of people checking out the 17th-century replica ship exceeding estimates.

More than 456,000 people attended the free “Landing Party” festival at six East Coast ports that the ship visited during the 80-day sail, which ended Sunday in Newport, R.I. Planners had expected 250,000 to 350,000 visitors.

“Those are potentially people who are coming to Virginia” for anniversary events, Kevin Crossett, a spokesman for Jamestown 2007 organizers, said yesterday from his Williamsburg office. “This definitely has the potential to bring in a lot of tourists to this area of the country.”

The Godspeed, a new $2.6 million replica of one of the three ships that carried the founders of America’s first permanent English settlement to Virginia in 1607, visited Alexandria, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Newport.

The floating museum drew 20,000 to 30,000 visitors over the course of its weeklong stay in Newport, said Michael Martin, senior event manager at the Newport Yachting Center, which played host to the Godspeed in Rhode Island.

“The event did a great job of capturing the crowd and bringing them in,” Mr. Martin said. The family-oriented event attracted many camp groups, he said.

The “Landing Party” festival featured live performances, historical exhibits and cultural displays. Visitors could explore the ship and talk to the Godspeed’s crew of paid staff and volunteers dressed in 17th-century costume.

The tour generated a lot of press coverage, planners said. They estimated that 1,200 stories in print, broadcast and online outlets reached more than 335 million people worldwide.

“We are very excited about the success of the Godspeed sail,” said Jeanne Zeidler, executive director of Jamestown 2007. “People reacted enthusiastically to the ship and the festival, demonstrating an intense interest in the nation’s origins.”

Jamestown 2007 is part of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a state agency that runs two history museums and is coordinating efforts to commemorate the 400th anniversary. The federal Jamestown 400th Commemoration Commission is helping on some activities.

Organizers are hoping for 2.4 million visitors overall for the commemorative events.

Some visitors to the Godspeed’s Rhode Island stop said the ship had piqued their interest in traveling to Virginia, while others said they weren’t impressed, the Newport News Daily Press reported in a story Sunday.

“Would this encourage me to come to Virginia if I’d never been there?” Carolyn Ivory, a Great Barrington, Mass., resident who has visited Virginia many times, told the newspaper. “I don’t know if this would be an inducement.”

Associated Press writer Chelsea Phua contributed to this report from Providence, R.I.

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