Kingston welcomes passenger ferry | Photo Slideshow

KINGSTON — The passenger ferry Spirit of Kingston was welcomed to its new home port in a ceremony conducted between rain squalls Sunday morning.

"This is very exciting for the community," Port of Kingston Commissioner Pete DeBoer said to a crowd assembled on the ferry's deck and along the port's guest dock. "It's been 20 years in the making."

The port will use the Spirit of Kingston on a commuter ferry route to Seattle starting in October. The $2.5 million catamaran was purchased in February with a grant from the Federal Transit Administration. Sunday marked its first appearance in Kingston.

Pat Hendrix of the Federal Transit Administration dedicated the ceremony to former Port of Kingston Manager Mike Bookey, who had been a driving force behind the passenger ferry effort before his death in 2009.

Then, with port officials and state representatives Sherry Appleton and Christine Rolfes looking on, Hendrix broke a ceremonial bottle of champagne over the Spirit of Kingston's prow.

Appleton noted the large crowd of Kingston residents who had turned out to welcome the ferry.

"When you look and see the community support for it, you hope it works out," Appleton said.

The 149-seat Spirit of Kingston garnered positive reviews from many who came on board.

"I think it's great, it looks really comfortable," Kingston resident Dennis Wodtli said. "I think this is great to have, it makes it a nicer place to live."

The Spirit of Kingston was only in town for the day. It will be used by former owners Four Seasons Marine Services as a passenger boat in Alaska this summer before returning to Kingston in late September.

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