The Women of Fleet Hit Town Week

To wear white in New York City requires a certain amount of grooming. And Khrzielle Vargas, a 21-year-old sailor apprentice from Fremont, California, was strolling through Times Square Thursday afternoon in white trousers, a white T-shirt and a white sailor hat.

“When you walk around the city in your uniform, you look like you are shining,” Ms. Vargas said.

Vargas was among the 3,000 serving members of the Navy and Marine Corps that flooded the streets of New York City for Fleet Week, a Memorial Day tradition that made a comeback for the first time since 2019. .

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

And, of course, members of the service take advantage of their off-shore time to explore the city’s many diverse activities.

Decades ago, the concept of sailors letting off steam was reminiscent of male-specific carousel rituals, as idealized in the 1949 musical “On the town,” which stars Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly as two Navy soldiers looking for love while on sabbatical in New York City.

However, the Fleet Week packages seen strolling Midtown Manhattan on Thursday night tend to include both men and women, and many seem to limit their joy to window shopping, visit the museum and have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, just like any other tourist.

Chelsea Acevedo, 26, a sailor from Austin, Texas, was joining the people’s parade at the red steps in Times Square with another female sailor and two male teammates. “I mainly go to the museum, see the shops.

Because she was not familiar with the city, Ms. Acevedo said she was accompanied by male sailors to ensure safety. New Yorkers, she said, sometimes mistake her for one of the men.

“From the front, people don’t really see your hair, so they’ll say, ‘Thank you for the service,'” Ms. Acevedo said. “And then you turn around and they say, ‘Oh, okay!’

While Manhattan has seen its share of anti-war protests, some female sailors said they were surprised to receive greetings from passersby. (However, one Marine said a woman in Times Square gave her the middle finger.)

Around 4:30 p.m., at West 46th Street and Seventh Avenue, crews walked near the statue of George M. Cohan, the Broadway celebrity whose life inspired the movie “Yankee Doodle Dandy .” They find themselves baiting tourists, like those who dress up as Minnie Mouse or Elmo to earn tips.

“Everybody wanted to take a picture with us,” said Anna Rodriguez, 21, crew member of USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship. “They say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ The children smiled brightly.”

Ms. Rodriguez, from Waco, Texas, said she was proud to patrol the city during her white summer, looking smarter than ever, she said, with modernized navy blue pipe on the collar and sleeve of the lapel.

Even so, the dirt in New York still poses a challenge. “It will get dirty,” she said. “But our ship offers free dry cleaning at night. Pay at two in the morning, receive at eight in the morning.”

Brianna Crigger, 20 years old, a shipmate of the USS Bataan from West Jefferson, Ohio, is taking a break from refueling fighter jets. For one thing, the uniform “was great,” she said. “This may sound pretentious, but I just love the way I look at it.”

And more than that, she prides herself on the message behind the uniform.

“It’s the uniform you wear to show that 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. ,” said Miss Crigger. “It just shows that you are more than what you think.”

For the high-altitudes – crowded bars, flashy nightclubs – Miss Crigger has more modest plans for her time in New York.

“I wanted to go see Trump Tower and the Statue of Liberty because I knew my mom would want a picture,” Ms. Crigger said. “But I’m not the right age, so I don’t go out. I usually just go back to the gym on the train, shower and go to bed.”

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