On Saturday, July 22, the nation will celebrate the commissioning of its newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford. The public is invited to join in the celebration of the historic commissioning during a free community event at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, which includes a presentation by Patrick Walsh, a retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral who last served as commander of the Pacific Fleet.

The family-friendly event will begin at 9:30 a.m. and feature tons of activities, live music and Walsh’s presentation. At 10 a.m., the commissioning ceremony, live from Virginia, will be displayed outside and inside the Museum. The commissioning celebration will happen rain or shine on July 22 from 9:30 a.m. until noon.

Activities, sponsored by Spartan Nash, include:

  • an American  Red Cross blood drive on site (10 a.m.–3p.m.),
  • toy boat races in the Museum’s fountain,
  • letter writing to seaman aboard the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford,
  • performances by the Salvation Army Brass Band,
  • games and activities to be led by individuals from the Salvation Army Kroc Corps Community Center,
  • refreshments including a giant cupcake flag.

The USS Gerald R. Ford is the first of the Navy’s new Ford class of aircraft carrier. It can carry more planes and operate with nearly a thousand fewer sailors. It will also increase flying missions by a third. The ship will go through workups at sea before becoming operational in 2020. The commissioning ceremony will be held at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia