Peri Lagassa grew up around maritime history, creating a natural fit for her role as a member of the Piscataqua Maritime Commission Board of Directors.
She describes Mystic, Connecticut, as her “home port” – where she grew up. Mystic is also home to the Mystic Seaport Museum, where her father was membership director and harbormaster.
“He loved tall ships,” Peri recalls. So much so that he’d schedule visits to Portsmouth just to view the annual tall ships parades.
A favorite photo, she says, is from 1982 of her eldest daughter sitting on her grandfather’s shoulders as the tall ship Simon Bolivar from Venezuela came into Portsmouth Harbor.
She is proud of the PMC’s efforts on behalf of promoting the region’s maritime history. Those efforts include the annual Sail Portsmouth events that include the tall ships parade and other activities, as well as the Maritime Talks.
She is especially proud of the commission’s third major program — the Sea Challenge, which gives underserved youth in the area an opportunity to experience an educational and experiential voyage aboard a tall ship. The PMC helps underwrite the cost of these experiences by providing scholarships. Most of the scholarship money comes from many concerned donors.
“My greatest joy is the Sea Challenge, where youth are sent to sea for a week to learn much about themselves, the sea, and responsibility,” says Peri. “For many, this is a “game changer.’“