Anchorage Update: The Arrival!
Hi everybody! Henry and Patrick Ramage here, so excited to tell you about our final stop in Anchorage, Alaska!
After embarking on our 12-day cross-country quest to help save whales and visiting 12 cities along the way, we finally arrived in Anchorage, site of next week's International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting. Flying in yesterday gave all of our team some time to reflect on our journey. As we looked out at all the gorgeous glaciers, waters and wildlife of Alaska we knew we had finally arrived.
It was very moving to touch down in Anchorage with a message of whale conservation, representing millions of concerned citizens around the world and the hopes of all the children and adults we've met across North America. But even as words fail us, we remain confident that the beautiful artwork of humpback whales we have now collected from more than 6,000 children in all 50 states will speak volumes to delegates from more than 70 nations and help encourage Japan, Norway and Iceland to stop commercial whaling.
We were warmly greeted in Anchorage by friends from IFAW and other conservation groups and a pre-school class of about 20 kids who were thrilled to be a part of our mission. We also received a special welcome from the Mayor of Anchorage, Mark Begich,who welcomed us into his office where we learned about his efforts to help protect whales and the global environment to which all our lives and welfare depend. Mayor Begich has issued a proclamation stressing protecting whales from commercial whaling and will speak at the IWC meeting next week. We admire his leadership and are very grateful for his kindness and support.
We were joined on the tarmac by new friends from Australia, Skye Bortoli, her sister Kaitlyn and Aysha Future. These teenagers from "down unda" have followed our journey and come to Anchorage with more than 45,000 signatures on a petition to end commercial whaling. It meant so much to see the signatures of so many caring and supportive individuals and that these girls and their parents -- who came from so far away yet are so close to us in the commitment we share were able to join us at our journey's end.
A big highlight of the arrival event was when our trusted pilot Ken Johnson presented Henry an official pilot shirt -- with bars on the epaulets -- and named Henry an honorary pilot! Henry and Daddy both cried! Ken has been so great throughout this journey and we've learned so much from him. He and Henry were a true piloting team, keeping Daddy and the rest of our crew of "shady mammals" in line!
After our emotional speeches to the kids and reporters who had come meet us at Merrill Field, Ken took us all out on the whale plane for a amazing final spin. He and co-pilot Henry were joined by our Australian friends, local conservationists and kids. We are confident our message was spread far today! All of the Anchorage news stations came to join us along with Reuters, the Associated Press and National Public Radio, which broadcasts across the country.
The day was still a blur when we are dashed off to the airport to race back to the East Coast to get Henry back to school before the week is out! We will be sharing more video, photos and reflections on the conclusion of our journey later this week, as Patrick and the IFAW team prepare for next week's critical IWC meeting. For now, thank you to everyone who has read this blog along the way and shown your support through your messages and expressions of support. Check back with us soon for more on our INCREDIBLE journey and the big IWC meeting to come!
Henry (and his very proud Dad!)