On the Way to New York / Cape May

The Half Moon on New York's Hudson River

Posted January 26, 2009
by Sandy d'Shore

Cape May, NJ - Last Wednesday, with a frigid wind whipping around Cape Island Baptist Church, I joined a group of 18 local residents making some big plans.

The subject - the celebration of Cape May’s part in the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's big trip.

Apparently in the year 1609, Henry Hudson’s galleon, the Half Moon, got stuck on a sand bar directly offshore, at the mouth of the Delaware Bay.

According to the first mate’s log entry, Captain Hudson thought he was on his way from Jamestown, Virginia to the Near East. It turned out that he was rounding what is now Cape May Point and the ship was actually headed toward New York.

Henry Hudson's Route from Hudson River Maritime Museum

Approximately 15 years later, Captain George Mey arrived in Cape May with his ship and proceeded to name this area after himself.

But this year marks the 400th anniversary of that first glimpse, however brief, of Cape May by Henry Hudson.

And what better excuse for a party?

As Bob Elwell committee co-chair (along with with Cape May resident Carol Boyd) tells it, the chamber of commerce recently concluded during an “explosion of ideas” that a "thorough look back" could provide many opportunities to celebrate 400 years of local history this year.

”We decided the whole project should, first and foremost be fun.” says Elwell. "And how, in these tough economic times, this kind of celebration could attract more people to visit and appreciate Cape May.”

Planning for The Party

At the outset, the group roundly favored the idea of a king and queen to preside over a February 2009 kick-off party, dubbed The Half Moon Gala. “ King Bud” Swain and his lady fair, Patricia Milligan, will be officially crowned at the dinner dance to be held at Congress Hall February 15th.

The evening will also feature a ” royal court,” an honor guard, music and Renaissance dancers, not to mention cocktails and a fashion show - all included in the $50 ticket. The proceeds will benefit the 400th Anniversary of Cape May Celebration.

Sitting in on the meeting at the church this cold Wednesday afternoon, I was struck by the number of good ideas being thrown out by energetic people from the community.

Someone suggested that a quilt could be made and then raffled off to the public to raise more funds for the year long celebration. The idea was well received.

Other items under discussion included a beard growing contest, a boat parade, historically significant theater productions, a number of art collaborations and a possible Native American amphitheater.

All this and Henry Hudson too!

The 400th Anniversary Celebration is being supported by the city of Cape May, the tourism commission, Kiwanis Club, the chamber of commerce and MAC.

There is a groundswell of goodwill and ideas from other organizations and individuals growing with each Wednesday afternoon meeting at Cape island Baptist Church.

You might consider stopping by and joining in the celebration.

Sandy d'Shore is a long time local who writes occasionally for Cape May Times. Look for more of her stories coming up.

Man of the Year - Henry Hudson

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