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P.T. ferry slated to arrive in August

Washington's newest ferry, Chetzemoka, will arrive in Port Townsend at the end of August and city officials, area tribes and others are planning to mark the day with celebrations, tours and ceremonies.

"The Chetzemoka ferry will introduce a new level of reliability to the important water highway between the Olympic Peninsula, the Whidbey Island communities and the I-5 corridor," said Michelle Sandoval, mayor of Port Townsend.

"Improving this vital connection will make getting to Port Townsend even more fun."

The tentative date for the celebration is Saturday, Aug. 28, on Whidbey Island at the Keystone terminal. There, a formal christening ceremony takes place.

The Chetzemoka then will make its inaugural crossing. At the dock in Port Townsend, area tribes will participate in a blessing and the boat will be open for public tours. A community celebration is being planned for the Northwest Maritime Center later that afternoon. Specific times and details still are being worked out, said Christina Pivarnik, city marketing director.

Also in August, as the new ferry is undergoing sea trials, the Port Townsend Main Street Program plans to host a family portrait in front of the boat. Dates will be confirmed as sea trials draw nearer. Everyone will be invited to participate.

Banners will go up on Whidbey Island and around Port Townsend and a new Web site, www.GoChetzemoka.com, will roll out to advertise the ferry's arrival. The Web site also will educate people about Chief Chetzemoka, who urged collaboration between tribes and early settlers and forged bonds of friendship.

"From our neighbors on Whidbey Island to our tribal friends to the broader Olympic Peninsula community, everyone pulled together to work with State Ferries and ensure the future of this route and the local economy," Sandoval said. "We also would really like to thank the state for the $224 million investment in the ferries that serve us."

The city is partnering with several agencies to celebrate the Chetzemoka's service between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend. They include Washington State Ferries, Port Townsend's Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce with support from Puget Sound Energy, the Port of Port Townsend, the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission, the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, Jefferson County and Whidbey Island tourism entities.

"Without support from these partners, we wouldn't be able to launch such a comprehensive regional promotion," Pivarnik said.

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