By George Solis

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ)– The annual “Salute to Schooners” festivities took place Tuesday at Fort McHenry. Aside from it kicking off Fleet Week in Baltimore, the event sets the stage for the 27th Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. All of which of course is aimed at one thing, honoring the state’s maritime heritage.

A state so deeply rooted with a rich naval history it only makes sense to dedicate a whole week to it.

At Fort McHenry, it’s the unofficial kickoff of Maryland’s Inaugural Fleet Week and Air Show in Baltimore.

“Fleet week is about the pride in our navy and servicemen but it’s also some of those servicemen a lot of them are actually from Maryland,” said Janet Caslow, Maryland Fleet Week education coordinator.

The “Sailabration” is the 5th annual “Salute to Schooners,” ships with a lot of history in the state especially during wars.

The event is a chance for children from all over region to visit the birthplace of the star spangled banner and even recite the famous lines as ships like the Pride of Baltimore II fire cannons in a friendly salute.

“Baltimore is represented,” said one organizer.

Organizers tell WJZ the celebration of the state’s maritime history is fitting.

“The maritime industry is very important to the state of Maryland,” said Oslow.

“It’s a great opportunity for any american to get a little better of an idea of how the navy is helping to keep us safe,” said petty officer first class Michael Webb.

The Schooner Race will take place Thursday and starts in Annapolis and ends in Portsmouth, Virginia.

The cost of all the entertainment this week is free. Large crowds are expected so plan your visit.

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