What to Know
Saturday, Dec. 9
Several special events are planned
What were you doing on Dec. 9, 1967?
You might have been listening to "Daydream Believer" from The Monkees, if you were into current tunes. Perhaps you were anticipating the December debuts of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "The Graduate," if you're a cinephile.
Or were you setting up your aluminum Christmas tree in the den, the one with the spinning color wheel? Yeah. Those happened, a lot, back in the '60s.
But so did one momentous arrival, a travel-related turning point for the ages, an occasion that would forever alter the course of Long Beach.
The RMS Queen Mary, the Cunard ocean-liner of transatlantic legend, of movie star passages, and of World War II service, sailed into the Port of Long Beach on Dec. 9, 1967, and there it stayed, and has stayed, grandly and ghostly, for exactly a half century.
Fascinating tidbit: "This magnificent liner now has been in Southern California longer than she was at sea," says the ship's site.
To mark those 50 years, and her 1967 arrival in Long Beach, the Queen is hosting a special anniversary full of several doings, and, you got it, free admission.
The celebration's name? It's worth waving a hankie over: The Last Great Cruise.
Be there on Saturday, Dec. 9 to board the history-packed hotel and attraction, where you can learn more about the storied ship of luminaries, of spirits, and, yes, the wartime "headquarters at sea" for Winston Churchill.
The memory of the great statesman will play a major role in the 50th anniversary, when Jennie Churchill, Winston Churchill's great-granddaughter, lays a Wreath of Remembrance upon the waves in honor of the 810,000 allied personnel who sailed upon the ship during the second World War.
The ceremony is at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 9 on the vessel's starboard side.
After the ceremony concludes, the fire boat water cannon will sound at 11:50, while the ship will pay homage to Long Beach via a horn salute at noon.
Viewings of "Their Finest Hour," games on the deck, and other happenings will fill out the schedule.
Free entry to the ship begins at 10 a.m. on Dec. 9, and various restaurants and shops will be open. Note that parking has a fee, as do some of the tours and experiences on the ship.
Also note that a special ticketed 50th Anniversary Celebration is set for Friday, Dec. 8 at the Verandah Grille & Deck. If you'd like to attend, visit the Queen Mary's site for more info and prices.
Fifty years in Long Beach? It's been a royal run for a royal ship thus far, one filled with special holiday events and concerts and ghost tours and the wintertime Scottish Fest and numerous ceremonies honoring its WWII role.
There's lots more to come, too, with the entertainment-laden Queen Mary Island now very much in the works. And going on now? There's a full-scale renovation of the colossal boat, a fabled vessel that first rose in the mid-1930s on the River Clyde in Scotland.
Meaning the Queen Mary is that rare and historic gem that gets to celebrate multiple major anniversaries, such as when it was first constructed, when it first crossed the Atlantic, and when it finally called upon Long Beach, its eternal and always port.