Maritime Festival: Meet the Grand Marshal
By Gianna Volpe
If you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes, Captain Dave Berson is the king of ‘Coming and Going,’ according to his red and green pair of mismatched boat shoes, which deftly mimic bow lights defining a craft’s intended direction.
The captain and co-owner of The Glory—the United State’s first Coast Guard-approved all-electric boat—is never in one spot for long, but whether he’s giving harbor tours, helping feed the less fortunate and educate the youth, writing magazine articles or gigging alongside former mayor Dave Nyce as “The Daves,” Captain Berson is out there giving Greenport village all he’s got.
“I didn’t want to come here and change anything; I just wanted to come here and be a part of this community,” said Captain Berson, who has been named the Grand Marshal of this year’s East End Maritime Festival. “The beautiful thing about Greenport is that if you want to participate, then you can just come here and there’s plenty of room to do that.”
This is the 20th year Captain Berson has sought to positively affect the village around him, which includes spending the better part of this past decade offering free educational programming to Greenport’s fourth, fifth and sixth grade kids, which is partially how he gained the ‘Grand Marshal’ gig in the first place.
“[The East End Seaport & Marine Foundation] selected Dave as the person of honor because of his generosity to the community, especially the children,” vice-chairperson Arlene Klein said of what qualities caught the organization’s eye. “His dedication to the nautical history of our area, his support of the maritime way of life that is still quite prominent in Greenport and surrounds, a strong proponent of clean waters, his continuing positive support of the Seaport Museum, and the fact that he is an honorable man who can represent our non-profit organization in a positive, dignified manner while being quite human and ‘touchable.’ Obviously, we really like and admire Dave. And we are not alone in that opinion.”
The East End Seaport & Marine Foundation so strongly support their belief regarding how heavily Mr. Berson has changed the North Fork for the better that they even created a documentary film about the legendary boat captain, which had its red carpet premiere at the local movie theater on September 2. The film will also screen during Maritime Festival.
“I came out here to figure out what the story was and it changed my life,” said Captain Berson of the symbiotic relationship he’s formed with the land and sea he loves most. “I didn’t realize it was going to change my life; I just wanted to be here.”