The Oysterponds Historical Society will host its very first Moby-Dick Reading Half-Marathon Weekend July 14 through 16, with several days of dramatic readings from Melville’s magnum opus, along with a sea shanty sing-a-long with chowder and biscuits, a kids’ whale parade down Village Lane and an outdoor screening of “In the Heart of the Sea.”

Community members will read representative selections from one of the most acclaimed American novels and there will also be children’s programming, a whaling talk and a Sea Shanties Sing-a-Long with chowder, biscuits and beverages on Saturday, July 15 at 5 p.m.

Marathon readings of Herman Melville’s 1851 classic tale of a sea captain obsessed with finding the whale that had bit off his leg have become a popular pastime in maritime communities, originating in New Bedford, Mass., from whence Captain Ahab’s ship, the Pequod, set sail in the novel. Moby-Dick marathons have also become entrenched in Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and in Sag Harbor. This half-marathon will focus on the most memorable highlights of the novel.

The festivities kick off with an introduction Friday, July 14at 5:30 p.m. on the steps of the Old Point Schoolhouse at the historical society’s complex at 1555 Village Lane, followed by a reading of Father Mapple’s Sermon in the Methodist Church building on Village Lane at 6:30p.m.

Readings continue Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon on the porch of the Village House (1555 Village Lane), with a children’s program at 10 a.m. and a whale sidewalk parade down Village Lane for kids at noon. Readings continue from 12:30 to 5 p.m. on the porch of the Village House.

Ned Baldwin, chef/owner of NYC’s Houseman Restaurant will prepare chowder and pastry chef Sam Lear will make the biscuits at the Sea Shanties Sing-Along, which will be held at the Old Point Schoolhouse. There’ll be cocktails, wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages served as well. David Nyce, former Mayor of Greenport, will also lead a Sea Shanties Sing-a-Long. If you care to, bring a blanket or a lawn chair, and maybe, some bug spray, too. Tickets are $35 for adults and $10 for kids and are available online here.

At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, the historical society will screen the 2015 Ron Howard film “In the Heart of the Sea” about the sinking of the American whaling ship Essex in 1820, which served as Melville’s inspiration for Moby-Dick (the event inspired the author, that is, not the film).

Festivities move to the Orient Yacht Club deck at 2110 Village Lane on Sunday from 11 to 11:45 a.m., where coffee and donuts and readings will conclude the weekend.

More details and a complete schedule of the weekend’s events can be viewed on www.OysterpondsHistoricalSociety.org. Here’s more info on the readings and readers.

This weekend of events complements one of the historical society’s current exhibitions in Village House (1555 Village Lane, Orient), “In Pursuit of Whales,” which is devoted to items pertaining to whaling during its heyday in the second quarter of the 19th century.

OHS’s collections boast an impressive trove of fascinating letters, contracts, legal documents, whaling voyage logbooks, etc. relating to several dozen different whaling vessels that sailed the seven seas.

To view the weekend’s full program, click here.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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