US Stamps

U.S. Manatees stamp event included added highlights

Apr 23, 2024, 10 AM

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

The United States Postal Service took a different approach with its issuance of the new Manatees forever stamp March 27 in Silver Springs, Fla. The first-day-of-issue event leaned heavily into this experience, and from my eyes, it seemed to work well.

Approximately 100 collectors and manatee fans turned out at Silver Springs State Park, with many arriving by 9 a.m. for the opening of the park. At the entrance, attendees could make a reservation for a glass-bottom boat ride to view manatees at no cost for the morning tours.

Near the boat docks was an area where the Postal Service had set up a retail booth, selling stamps and providing first-day cancellations. Stamp ceremony programs and pins of the stamp were handed out to attendees, both familiar items to collectors who attend these events.

At 10 a.m., four guests, including me, gathered near the stamp poster that was draped in the Postal Service blue cloth. After a few brief remarks made by some of the participants, we unveiled the stamp as shown in Figure 1.

After posing for photographs, the four of us went to the meet-and-greet table for autographs. I enjoyed this more relaxed version; it seemed less rushed than other ceremonies I’ve attended. And, as a participant,

I truly enjoyed all the conversations I had with stamp collectors, subscribers, and those who were introduced to stamps in a bigger way through the stamp event.

Before the unveiling, I had booked the glass-bottom boat ride with the hope of spotting a manatee, and I wasn’t disappointed. Figure 2 shows a photograph of one I saw in the water and a second photograph of the boat that I was on.

A neat touch from the Postal Service was on the top of the ceremony program insert, where it had added the ship captains’ names. The captains were provided with markers to sign their names after the ride.

The boat ride was 30 minutes, and the captains had their standard script for the tour. On my ride, the boat captain switched things up and started talking about the stamp with brief remarks about it.

The boat then rounded a bend, and surprisingly, there was a Manatees forever stamp poster hanging on a pavilion next to the water. The Figure 3 photograph shows that poster as viewed through one of the small circular windows on the top inside of the boat.

It was a very cool extra experience I didn’t expect from the day.

From what I have heard, there are a couple of additional ceremonies this year that might not follow the expected traditional format. If they are anything like this one, I think collectors will enjoy the experience over listening to 30 minutes to two hours of speeches.

That said, one of the comments I did hear at the Manatees event is that collectors would have liked to hear a little more from the ceremony participants (but keeping it brief). I think that might be an easy adjustment for future events.

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