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NYC to host America’s 250th birthday celebrations in 2026 with massive ship parade


She doesn’t look a day over 249.


The United States will ring in its upcoming 250th birthday — or semiquincentennial — with a massive international parade of tall sailing ships in New York Harbor on July 4, 2026, officials announced.


The event, which will be a throwback to similar ship parades in 1976 and 2000, is expected to attract more than six million visitors to the region and be a symbol of America’s preeminent place in a world.


“This will be an extraordinary display of pride and international goodwill, set against the backdrop of what is arguably the most iconic symbol of our American Ideals,” NJ Gov. Phil Murphy said in a joint press release with other leaders.


The so-called Sail4th 250 flotilla will be made up of ships representing several nations and will be the largest ever. It will also mark a major time in the Tri-State area, as it will come a day before a World Cup semifinal match on July 5th at MetLife Stadium.


It will also mark a series of semiquincentennial events that will take place from July 3 through 8.


New York and New Jersey will host a tall ship flotilla for the USA’s 250th. Sail4th 250

“It’s been a long time in the making,” Sail4th 250 President Chris O’Brien told the Post Tuesday.


The current plans are the result of four years of work, with over two years still to go before at least 30 tall ships from around the world descend on the country’s most famous port, O’Brien explained.


“Their primary mission is diplomatic, goodwill missions, showing the flags from their nations,” he said of the impressive ships.


O’Brien – who started his own career with the US Coast Guard in 1991 – also emphasized the symbolic importance of having the 18 and 19th century-style vessels parade through the harbor in more high-tech times.


“There will be off-shore wind farm under construction nearby, you’ll have the juxtaposition of the height of wind technology from 1800 versus wind power today,” he told The Post.”We’ll be looking back, and then looking forward.”


Visiting tall ships pictured in the harbor on July 4, 1976. AP

Despite its tongue-twister name, the US’ semiquincentennial is expected to draw even more visitors than 1976’s bicentennial, which drew an estimated six million spectators, O’Brien noted.


“These events are kind of like magic button events,” he said of the tall ship parade.

After the ships process by, they will also be docked for a few days to allow visitors to come on board and meet sailors from around the world.


Social media will also bring spectators closer to the action before the celebration even begins.


“We have social media now, so this is going to go around the world. We see each ship having someone vlogging every day about their journey to America for this event,” O’Brien told The Post.


Fireworks fill the night sky over New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty in celebration of America’s Bicentennial 50 years ago. Getty Images

The extended port stay and online coverage will underscore the international goodwill element of the event, as will the fact that the World Cup will be underway just a few miles west.


“There’s a semifinal match on July 5!” O’Brien pointed out.


As for why New York is the ideal host for such a large-scale event, O’Brien said that the Big Apple was a no-brainer.


“New York was the engine that drove the success of the nation, in terms of commerce and industry,” he noted, citing a speech from South Street Seaport Museum CEO and Sail4th 250 board member Jonathan Boulware.


“[Without] New York, we would not have America, we would not have developed the way we are,” he said, noting that “[early] America was built on the backs of tall ships.”


The event is being spearheaded Sail4th 250. Sail4th 250

In Sail4th’s press release announcing the event, New York City Economic Development President and CEO Andrew Kimball agreed that the city was the “perfect backdrop” for the extravaganza.


With just over two years to go, there are “layers and layers” of partnerships in the works to make sure it all goes off without a hitch, O’Brien said.


This includes partnerships with private companies and sponsors, as well as cooperation with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Murphy, and other civic leaders.


“This will be an extraordinary display of pride and international goodwill, set against the backdrop of what is arguably the most iconic symbol of our American Ideals,” Murphy said in the press release.


“New Jersey looks forward to joining our neighbors on the other side of the Hudson to welcome vessels and visitors from around the globe for what is sure to be an unforgettable celebration of our nation’s birthright and the beacon of hope that has inspired the world,” he added.


NYC Tourism + Conventions President and CEO Fred Dixon called the celebration plans “thrilling” and fitting for New York City, which “has a long tradition as the place where history is made.”


O’Brien and the event’s planners also envision the 250th as a chance to cap off a turbulent decade defined by political upheaval and the COVID-19 pandemic.


“We’re looking back, we’re reflecting and we’re taking from [the past],” he told The Post, reflecting on the impact


“We’re taking a moment Nothing that brings people together [like this],” O’Brien mused.

With just over two years to go, there are “layers and layers” of partnerships in the works to make sure it all goes off without a hitch, O’Brien said.

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