You may have been to New York City before. You may have been to the big tourist sites. You may have even taken a Helicopter tour; after all, they are available to anyone with too much money who signs up for them. But I’d be willing to bet that you have never cruised around Manhattan on an FDNY Fire Boat before. So even if you are sick to death of hearing about this Make-a-Wish trip already, this might be the story you don’t want to miss.
After surviving a trip to Yonkers the day before, we had arrived at what was billed in the precious folder as “Wish Day.” This was a special day during which we would not be on our own, but would rather be met in the hotel lobby by a Make-a-Wish representative and a member of the FDNY to whisk us away to adventure. They pulled up in an official brand-new Fire Van with only 400 miles on it, and before we knew it we were on our way to ground zero as a delaying tactic while the fire boat was made ready.
The fire boat, as they explained it to us, is not something that just “goes out.” They have smaller aquatic fire vehicles for that sort of thing. No, this was the flagship of the fleet, and it was compared to an airplane in that it takes a few hours for it to be checked over, fueled up, etc. This was not for little boat fires. This was for rescues like the Miracle on the Hudson, or huge fires that lasted for more than 3-4 hours. In fact, the most common use for Marine 1 was to provide fresh drinking water to communities that needed it during emergencies like Hurricane Sandy. It was a massive boat, a mighty craft, and we couldn’t believe that we were going to go out on it!
It was a beautiful day, and the first thing we did (after a tour of the boat of course!) was to go out to the Statue of Liberty and cruise around it. We had seen it by helicopter, and we would be going into the pedestal the next day, but to have a private boat tour so close to Liberty Island was just incredible. Free from the crowds of the ferry, absent the pushing and shouting and scrambling for a spot to see, we felt so blessed to have such a unique and relaxing up-close look at what really is a wonder of the modern world.
From there the boat headed out around Governor’s Island and up the East River, going under the Brooklyn Bridge as we continued our tour. If you have ever wondered what the underside of the Brooklyn Bridge looks like, well, I can tell you all about it.
And the firefighters were so warm and welcoming to us. They let Edward blow the horn and push whatever buttons he wanted. They let him move the huge stings around (although they wisely did not let him shoot the water out), and they kept giving him quarters for the M&M dispenser, which he took full advantage of. I don’t think I have ever had a more perfect morning in my life.
When it was time to come back Edward insisted on helping out, so they had him pulling ropes and tying the boat up to the dock, which he was just thrilled about. They gave he and his sister FDNY shirts and hats, and even took us for a ride in “The Gator,’ which, despite its name, is a land vehicle that we tore around the parking lot in.
But our day was not done! We were then taken out to lunch in what used to be a church, but is now a giant pizza place, and we ordered two of everything, and it was amazing. I don’t know how we managed to eat all of that food and still be hungry for dessert, but when we saw chocolate bears on the menu, we knew that we all had to have one. And they were fantastic.
From there we went back to the hotel to rest on the bed while watching television. Believe me, we needed it. Because there was no stopping this crazy adventure! It was on to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum to take pictures with a bunch of famous people that my children had never heard of.
Well, not true. They had heard of Abraham Lincoln and Spongebob. Oh, and they have seen E.T., so they were happy to recreate an iconic scene from that movie.
But otherwise, the real reason we were there was to get to the superheroes, and to see the 4-D movie. To hear Ruby’s explanation of why 4-D movies are stupid, please read yesterday’s post.
Well, we saw the superheroes, and we saw the awesome 4-D movie that was loved by all, but there was no time for relaxing, because it was time to get onto “The Ride.” “The Ride” is a large sideways entertainment bus that had three rows of theater seating facing a giant glass wall through which we could see the city. But before we could get on the performance art machine, we were greeted by folks from “The Ride” who presented us with the best surprise we could have ever imagined: a big bag.
Edward took the bag and inside found a treasure trove of wonders that had been rounded up by “The Ride,” and included, on the top, a large plush M&M from the M&M store. And under the M&M we found certificates, passes, and tickets. Free dinner for 4 at Señor Frog’s. Free passes to the Star Wars exhibit at Discovery Center. More passes to Madame Tussaud’s. And best of all, 4 row-5 tickets to the next night’s showing of “School of Rock: The Musical” on Broadway! We were completely blown away by this generosity! But we had no time to bask in the awesomeness of “The Ride,” … because it was time to jump on and enjoy the awesomeness of “The Ride!”
So the way “The Ride” works is that two funny ladies banter back and forth with each other, as well as with the semi-sentient robotic bus-machine, as we tour the city and make faces at the people on the sidewalk. But every once in a while “The Ride” will have planted someone out there on the sidewalk who will then do something entertaining for us, like breakdance, sing a song, or do ballet. The kids loved it, and of course the adults did as well. It was super fun and a great end to a busy day. How nice to be able to see some shows, tour the city, and experience a unique vehicle, all while being able to sit back and rest for the whole evening! I would highly recommend it.
Thanks Make-a-Wish, and thanks “The Ride,” for making this day so special for Edward and the rest of the family. The trip was so magical already, and yet there is still more to come tomorrow!