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Residents can earn berth on historic quot;Old Ironsidesquot;

At a venerable 204 years of age, it is the oldest sailing warship afloat in the world, a part of American maritime history.

The USS Constitution, better known as "Old Ironsides", is now in her third century of service and 100 lucky people will have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a part of her honorary crew during the summer of 2002.

Students, educators and other residents selected through a lottery will have the opportunity to invite three special guests to participate in this extraordinary occasion.

The winners will board the ship for an exciting tug-powered cruise across Boston Harbor on July 13, 2002.

An entire weekend of family activities is scheduled at the Charlestown Navy Yard in conjunction with the historic sailing.

A special workshop for educators will feature an award-winning curriculum and helpful tips on teaching about the USS Constitution in the classroom.

A national outreach program known as "Old Ironsides" Across The Nation will be bringing members of the ship's active-duty Navy crew and a full-size replica of the ship's impressive gun deck to cities across the country.

Their next stop is here in Alabama in the port city of Mobile from January 16-20, 2002.

A public presentation entitled "204 years Aboard Old Ironsides'" is scheduled for Thursday, January 17 at the Museum of Mobile, 111 South Royal St., from 7-8 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday families are invited to come to the Museum of Mobile and see free hourly demonstrations on the replica gun deck.

Active-duty sailors will demonstrate the teamwork involved in firing a cannon.

There will be hands-on exhibits of early life at sea and activities such as knot-tying and reading signal flags.

(The Museum is waiving regular admission charges for the weekend.)

A free, interactive educator workshop is scheduled for Thursday evening from 4-6 p.m. at the Museum.

All participants will receive a free copy of the award-winning curriculum being presented.

To register, call (617) 426-1812.

While "Old Ironsides" no longer leaves the safety of Boston Harbor, everyone has the chance to enter the lottery for the tug-powered "Salute to the Southeast" cruise in July.

Lottery forms will be available at the Mobile events, or, to enter electronically, go to www.oldironsidesacrossthenation.org

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You may also request entries by mail by writing to:

"Old Ironsides" Across the Nation Lottery , c/o USS Constitution Museum, PO Box 1812, Boston, Mass 02129.

All entries must be received by April 15, 2002.

Twenty-five percent of the winners will be drawn from a pool of educators and an additional twenty-five percent will be students in grades K-12.

To learn more about the USS Constitution and her special ties to Alabama the public is invited to visit the World Wide Web site listed above, or call (617) 426-1812.