PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Gateway Clipper fleet is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its largest vessel, the Majestic, in style.
Captain’s Dinner Dance cruises are reduced by 25 dollars, through October. The crown jewel of the fleet is one of five riverboats sporting fresh blue and white paint, and a new company emblem.
“I think it helps to define Pittsburgh,” says third generation owner Terry Wirginis. “It’s one of the reasons we’re here. The rivers are one of the reasons we’re here.”
The Gateway Clipper fleet began in 1958, with the purchase of a fishing boat by his grandfather, the late John Connolly.
“Back in that time,” Wirginis says, “there was no thought of how they might be developed today. They were dirty, basically open sewers, with so much industrialization along the rivers.”
The rivers grew cleaner as the fleet grew larger. Construction of the Majestic took place in Pensacola, Florida.
“That summer of ’87, we had three hurricanes that came,” Wirginis recalls. “And I’ll never forget watching the hurricane map and saying we’re going to get wiped out on this one.”
But the Majestic was unscathed.
The riverboat was still unnamed when it arrived in Pittsburgh in January, 1987.
KDKA radio held a “name that boat contest.” Of 27 thousand entries, only eleven were “Majestic.” But the owners liked that name best.
Current owner Wirginis says the river business hasn’t lost its charm. ‘”I know it’s magical, because I see the same families come back, generation after generation. Can’t do anything but have fun.”