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Red Hook raiders! Long Johns reach for their silver to preserve historic barge

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Arrrr! Is for Red Hook.

Or at least there was no shortage of swords, eye patches, and peg legs at the Pirate Ball, a pirate-themed gala aboard a barge just off shore from the nautical neighborhood on Thursday night.

“The ball was a blast. It was a great full moon, high tide, and a perfect evening,” said Park Sloper Herve Riou, the chairman of the Barge Centennial Committee, which help organized the pirate extravaganza.

The blowout took place aboard the Lehigh Valley Railroad Barge No. 79, a vessel that is home to the Waterfront Museum and one of the only remaining vessels of its kind, kicking off a yearlong celebration of the vessel’s 100th birthday. The barge that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places once ferried cargo between freight trains and deep-water boats on the Hudson River has been docked at the end of Conover Street since 1994.

“She is the last survivor of the old railway system,” said Riou.

The party featured musical performances, hors d’oeuvres like chilled oysters, and lots of champagne, raising more than $20,000 to maintain the old boat.

“The barge needs maintenance and dry dock repairs over the next five years and it is one big project and very costly,” said Riou, adding that helping to preserve the barge will ultimately help keep alive the dream of Captain David Sharps, who founded the barge’s Waterfront Museum in 1986 and saved the old boat from destruction.

Among the honorees at the bash was Red Hook developer Greg O’Connell of the O’Connell Organization. In 1994, O’Connell and his company created the berth for the barge and since then has continued to donate equipment and materials to help keep the boat afloat. Also honored were Alison and George Tocci, who have both been active with the barge.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.
Updated 10:15 pm, July 9, 2018
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