It missed one celebration, but it’ll arrive just in time for another.
The Gloria, the 257-foot steel-hulled flagship of the Colombian navy, will dock this weekend at the Foss Waterway Seaport in Tacoma. The ship’s crew is on a goodwill mission to the United States, and they’re stopping in Tacoma to take part of the sixth annual United Festival Latino.
This is the Gloria’s first West Coast trip, festival organizer Marvin Gaviria said.
"They’re coming in straight from Panama," Gaviria said Tuesday. "They’ve been out as sea the past three weeks just to come here for the festival."
The ship was originally scheduled to take part of the Tall Ships Tacoma 2008, a five-day event earlier this month, but couldn’t make it. The organizers of United Festival Latino then decided to make the ship’s arrival its centerpiece attraction.
Up to 20,000 people are expected to attend Saturday and Sunday.
The Gloria’s crew is expected to show off a little when the ship arrives in Tacoma.
"All the sailors stand on the masts, all the way to the top," Gaviria said. "It’s a beautiful display of all the sailors."
Organizers hope the festival and the Gloria’s visit will encourage visitors to help others.
Festival attendees will have an opportunity to donate blankets and sweaters to provide relief for hundreds affected by flooding in central Colombia. And the festival will sell coffee to benefit the YMCA in Colombia and in the Seattle area.
But the event is designed to be a celebration of all Latin culture. Sixteen concerts – featuring a variety of music from Mexican mariachi to Brazilian samba – are scheduled. Cartoonists and clowns highlight a kids’ section. Food stalls will serve Latin American cuisine, and booths featuring rock climbing and a scaled-down version of bungee jumping will be available for adrenaline junkies.
The festival runs from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday near the Foss Waterway Seaport at 705 Dock St. Admission to the event costs $5 per family (up to a maximum of five people), but tours of the Gloria are free.