NEW LONDON, Conn. - The Thames River Heritage Park’s hop-on hop-off water taxi launched its fifth season June 19, with new protocols, a new schedule, and new themed tours providing visitors and local residents a safe opportunity to enjoy fresh air, cool breezes, and summer family fun.
“Due to Covid-19 we are getting a later start to the season,” said Amy Perry, the park’s executive director. “This time has allowed us to put all our protocols in place so passengers can enjoy a comfortable and safe experience.” The boats will operate at 50 percent capacity, social distancing and masks are required.
“We have created a comprehensive Covid-19 plan following the CT Covid-19 compliance guidelines.” These can be found at https://www.thamesriverheritagepark.org/covid-19.
The water taxi will operate 11:40 a.m. to 6:20 p.m. Friday through Sunday and holidays through Sept. 13. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under and active military with ID, free for children 3 and under, the same as in past years.
Season passes – all rides all season are $50 for adults and $30 for children 12 and under. Riders can board the boat from any of three landings sites: Fort Trumbull and City Pier in New London and Thames River Landing in Groton.
The Park will once again be offering boat and walking tours in July and August. “Women of the Thames” is a new tour celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. It features the stories of some of the women who have made significant historical and cultural contributions in the Groton-New London area. The tour will be offered as a boat and walking tour. Both will be led by Gail Braccidiferro MacDonald, a journalism faculty member at the University of Connecticut and author of two local history books.
• “Submarines, Battlefields, and Betrayers. Military Stories on the Thames.” From the vantage point of the river riders will hear stories about and understand the strategic value of this storied waterway and region. This tour sold out all weekends last year.
• “Canoe to Submarine.” This tour shares the tales of whaling, provisioning, privateering, defense, and the larger-than-life characters who made our heritage so colorful.
• “Revolutionary War Ghosts on the Thames.” Taking place on the 239th anniversary of Benedict Arnold’s notorious attack on New London and Fort Griswold. Passengers will travel the route of the Red Coats as we share the haunting tales of 1781 and the spirits that roam the port cities to this day.
The schedules have not been finalized at the time of this release. All tours are 90 minutes. With the exception of the $25 Revolutionary War Ghost tickets, all tour tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for children under 12 accompanied by an adult and are available at https://www.thamesriverheritagepark.org/boat-tours/. All tours leave from City Pier in New London.
With some of the historic sites in the park closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, visitors are encouraged to download the Park’s app featuring five audio tours. Download the izi.travel app and enter Thames River Heritage Park.
“The water taxi provides a wonderful opportunity to enjoy our river and discover its treasures while so many of us will be spending our summer vacations close to home,” said Marian Galbraith, TRHP board president.
Vixen Ledge Marine LLC has returned to operate the water taxi. The company is owned and operated by Scott Arsenault of Voluntown. Arsenault has been a captain on the water taxi since the Park’s launch in 2016.
“Scott’s experience will make for a seamless launch this year. The Park and our visitors will benefit greatly from an operator who is intimately familiar not only with our operation but also with our navy boats themselves,” added Perry.
Perry expressed appreciation for individual supporters and its 2020 sponsors: Groton Utilities, Yale New Haven Health/L&M, Atlantic Broadband, The Day, Thames Valley Communications, The Garde Arts Center, Hall Communications and Chelsea Groton Bank.