Fleet Women's Week Hits Town

It takes a certain panache to wear white in New York. And Khrzielle Vargas, a 21-year-old apprentice sailor from Fremont, Calif., strol...


It takes a certain panache to wear white in New York. And Khrzielle Vargas, a 21-year-old apprentice sailor from Fremont, Calif., strolled through Times Square on Thursday afternoon in her white pants, white sweater and white sailor hat.

“When you walk around town in your uniform, you look like you shine,” Ms Vargas said.

Ms Vargas was among 3,000 Navy and Marine personnel who took to the streets of New York City for Fleet Week, a Memorial Day tradition that returned for the first time since 2019.

The seven-day festival includes a parade of ships, public tours of warships docked along the Hudson River, and various displays of nautical and aeronautical prowess by members of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

And, of course, military members take advantage of their shore leave to explore the city’s many entertainments.

In decades past, the concept of sailors romping was reminiscent of distinctive male rituals of partying, as idealized in the 1949 musical “On the city”, which starred Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly as two Navy men looking for love while on leave in New York.

But the Fleet Week packs seen strolling through Midtown Manhattan on Thursday night tended to include both men and women, and many seemed to limit their revelry to window shopping, visiting museums and having lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, as any other tourist.

“I mostly see museums, I look at stores,” said Chelsea Acevedo, 26, a sailor from Austin, Texas, who watched the parade of people on the red steps of Times Square with another woman and two companions. on board.

Because she is unfamiliar with the city, Ms Acevedo said she was keen to travel with other male sailors for safety reasons. New Yorkers, she said, sometimes mistook her for one of the men.

“People don’t really see your hair from the front, so they’ll be like, ‘Thank you guys for your service,'” Ms Acevedo said. “And then you turn around and they go, ‘Oh, OK!

While Manhattan has seen its share of anti-war protests, several deckhands said they were surprised to receive greetings from passers-by. (A female Marine, however, said a Times Square woman gave her the middle finger.)

Around 4:30 p.m., at West 46th Street and Seventh Avenue, clusters of sailors mingled near the statue of George M. Cohan, the Broadway luminary whose life inspired the movie “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” They found themselves becoming tourist bait, like people who dress up as Minnie Mouse or Elmo for tips.

“Everyone wants to take pictures with us,” said Anna Rodriguez, 21, a crew member of the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship. “They say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ Little kids smile really big.

Ms. Rodriguez, who is from Waco, Texas, said she was proud to patrol the city in her white summer clothes, which look smarter than ever, she said, with the modernized navy blue piping on the collar and the flap sleeves of the sweater.

Even so, the grime of New York poses a challenge. “It’s going to get dirty,” she said. “But our ship offers free dry cleaning at night. Drop it off at 2 a.m., pick it up at 8 a.m.

Brianna Crigger, 20, a shipmate of the USS Bataan from West Jefferson, Ohio, was enjoying a break from her job refueling fighter jets. For one thing, the uniform “is just cool,” she said. “This is going to sound conceited, but I just like the way I look.”

And more than that, she was proud of the message behind the uniform.

“It’s a uniform that you wear to show you’re doing this for your country, you’re doing this for the people who died for your country, you’re doing this for the people back home,” Ms Crigger said. “It just shows that you are more than you think you are.”

When it came to shore leave — crowded bars, flashy nightclubs — Ms. Crigger had smaller plans for her time in New York.

“I want to go see Trump Tower and the Statue of Liberty because I know my mom would want a picture,” Ms Crigger said. “But I’m not old enough, so I don’t go out. Usually I just go back to the gym on the boat, take a shower and go to bed.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Fleet Women's Week Hits Town
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