Liberty Weekend 1986 – the Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration. Hundreds of dignitaries and celebrities were on hand for the spectacular four day celebration and upwards of 20,000 boats were in New York harbor. There were Tall Ships from all over the world, pleasure craft of every size and charter yachts that people had booked years in advance to ensure they would be part of the historic festivities. One of those yachts was the Mariner III from Biloxi, Mississippi and I was on board.
I found the photo (below) while going through my collection of saved magazines and newspapers from historic events. It is the centerfold of Time Magazine’s July 14th, 1986 edition and my finger points to the approximate spot where I was aboard the Mariner III, in our assigned anchorage for all of the festivities including the July 4th fireworks extravaganza, wherein pyrotechnics were launched into the sky from eight barges. It was a breathtaking display of “rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air ” that turned me into a fireworks snob. Sorry – nothing since compares.
Liberty Weekend 1986 also kick-started my career in catering and adventure on the high seas. I was originally hired as a waitress but once word got out that I grew up in a family of Italian restaurateurs, I was invited to work in the galley as an apprentice to the onboard southern Chef – a person whose name you would probably recognize today. One of my first assignments was to peel, clean and boil shrimp for the raw bar. I thought it was an easy enough task – I had, after all, grown up eating and serving shrimp cocktail in my grandmother’s restaurant. But this was whole new world – a world where boiling shrimp in just plain water was seriously frowned upon – a world where I was going to explore new flavors and a find my inner chef. I was almost immediately introduced to Zatarain’s – a nifty boil-in-bag collection of herbs and spices – and was taught how to use it to boil shrimp – Southern style.