by Rachel Young
Learning he had been named grand marshal of next month’s Maritime Festival was beyond humbling for David Berson, who conducts daily tours of Greenport Harbor on his solar-powered boat Glory and provides no-cost educational programs to local children.
So you can imagine how Berson felt when he was told area filmmaker Tony Bettler had been commissioned by officials at the East End Seaport Museum & Maritime Foundation, which hosts the annual Greenport festival, to create a short documentary about his contributions to the community.
“Even my inbred New York City cynicism was overwhelmed with the honor,” the Bronx native and longtime Greenport resident, 67, said last week at Preston’s Dock, the Main Street site his 30-foot vessel has long called home. “And the honor is not mine. I’m just the antenna. I’m a reflection of everybody that’s doing good work out here.”
“Captain David Berson, Grand Marshal” will be screened at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, at the Greenport Theatre. In addition to offering a glimpse into Berson’s life as a sailor and celestial navigator, the roughly 30-minute film explores the free programs he has offered to Greenport School District students since 2008. Those initiatives, which are funded largely by donations from various individuals and community organizations, include weekly art, science and writing classes for fourth- and fifth-graders, a storybook workshop and a nature journal program.
“[Berson] creates a great environment out of the classroom,” said Bettler, a native of Switzerland. “The kids are participating really well.”
Starting in May, Bettler visited Berson Saturday mornings at Greenport’s Little Red Schoolhouse, where the boat captain helped students create decorative guitars and ukuleles. Their creations are currently on view in the front window of Colonial drugstore in downtown Greenport.
“We take a very strong interest in the children of this community — to provide them with the opportunity to enjoy art, music and science in an environment that’s less demanding than school,” said Berson, who operates the programs with his partner, Meg Bennett, under their 5013c Glory Going Green.
“It’s more of a Montessori model,” he continued. “I think it of as an Italian social club without the bocce.”
Lynn Summers, secretary and volunteer educational director at East End Seaport Museum & Maritime Foundation, called Berson a “spark plug of energy and education.”
“He really believes in what he does,” Summers said. “He has great ethics and principles and is totally devoted to children and education.”
Those values, she said, are reflected in Bettler’s film.
“You get the essence of what Greenport is all about, which is family and community and helping one another and being open to the future,” she said.
See the documentary
“Captain David Berson, Grand Marshal” will be screened at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, at the Greenport Theatre, 211 Front Street, Greenport. A donation of $5 per person benefits the East End Seaport Museum & Foundation. The annual Maritime Festival takes place Sept. 23-25 in downtown Greenport. Visit eastendmaritimefestival.org.
2016 Greenport Maritime Festival
The Ice & Classic Boat Exhibit at the 2016 Maritime Festival will be much like last year’s. We will exhibit on Saturday and Sunday September 24 & 25. You’re invited! Please pass this onto anyone else you may know who would like to show a boat or iceboat. Volunteers from last year are heartily welcomed back and new folks are always sought out. Thank you!
We will have two floating docks with free dockage. Space is limited and will be assigned to the first classics applying. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday dockage is offered. Please bring some printed information for spectators to learn about and appreciate your boat. Dressing ship is festive and always appreciated. “No Boarding” signs and lender ensigns are available. Please let us know if you would like to attend.
Exhibitors with boats on trailers are assigned approximate spaces ringing the flagpole lawn in Mitchell Park for ease in maneuvering. Smaller dinghies, kayaks, or canoes will fill the center area since they can be carried. Iceboats will be placed in the lawn adjacent to the Marina office. Please bring printed information for spectators to learn about and appreciate your boat, even if it’s only basic info. The Village roads close to vehicles on Saturday at 0900, so exhibitors are encouraged to deliver boats on Friday if possible or early Saturday a.m. Vehicles must be out of the park by 0830. Please let us know if you would like to attend. There will be a boat placement diagram posted on the flagpole. Please check your spot before unhitching your trailer. We’ll be there Friday afternoon and Saturday morning to help and provide info.
A night watchman is assigned to the Park and floating docks on Friday and Saturday nights. Your boat or iceboat and gear will be safe. The Festival closes at 5 p.m. on Sunday, when the roads will start to open again for vehicles to retrieve boats. In summary: Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. there is no vehicle access to Mitchell Park on Village roads - Front & Main Streets are pedestrian only.
The Land & Sea cocktail party reception is the kick-off event Friday evening under a tent at Greenport Yacht and Shipbuilding on Carpenter Street. Tickets are available at www.eastendmaritimefestival.org
The complete Saturday/Sunday Maritime Festival schedule is online at www.eastendmaritimefestival.org
Iceboat entries, coordination, and volunteering call or email Mike Acebo, 631-477-9594, firstname.lastname@example.org
Classic boat entries, coordination, and volunteering call or email Pat Mundus, 631-786-2734, email@example.com
Captain David Berson, Grand Marshal
David Berson is every film maker’s dream come true and his worst nightmare all rolled into one enigmatic, exuberant personality. Tony Bettler does a wonderful job capturing the many sides and passions of this year’s Grand Marshal.
For one so full of opinions and talents, Dave can be self-effacing and modest but always determined to do the right thing. Given the opportunity in this film to share his personal views of the world he has chosen instead to share the screen with his “kids”.
Those “kids” are the children of Greenport who will be the future of our community and the world. He takes pride in their accomplishments, frets over their growing pains, and wills them to succeed while he stands in the background relishing their reflected glory. This is evident in how he directed Tony to put the focus on the entity of his community based non-profit instead of himself.
A loveable, sometimes controversial personality, David is the star of the film. By stepping back into the shadows of the movie, he stands in the spotlight.
During the Maritime Festival, "Captain Dave Berson, Grand Marshal", a film by Tony Bettler, will be showing at the Seaport Museum.
REMARKS FROM FILM MAKER
My interest in photography goes back to my teenage years in Switzerland.
Later, living and working in New York City, I took courses at the School of Visual Arts and learned the craft of video and sound recording as well as non-linear editing. I produced a number of short movies for private use.
In early 2004, a few years after I retired from my career in the financial industry, a childhood friend and biology professor asked me to document his expeditions into the Amazon. That same year I joined a group of European scientists led by him into the Bolivian Amazon Basin to document their field work. Over the past 10 years I have accompanied them six times for trips of one month. The movies are shown primarily during lectures.
Recently my wife, Marla Milne, and I have been producing movies about events in the Greenport community and of our worldwide travels. Some have been shown at the Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport. Our movies are produced under the name 'View2XL'. A few can be viewed on www.view2xl.com. Most of the production has been educational and noncommercial.