Newfoundland — The ship went down…again.
In a yearly rite as bizarre as it is quasi-historically accurate, hundreds of devoted Titanic re-enactors perished yesterday when their fishing boat — re-christened Titanic — sank in the icy waters of the Atlantic. It was the routinely deadly climax to the annual “Titanic Tragedy and Puffin-Watching Cruise.”
“It was brilliantly done,” declared Roger Stiverman, president of the Titanic International Fan Club, which sponsors the annual fest. “Even better than last year’s sinking. Last year, I thought the panic caused a few — but only a few — re-enactors to break character, which took a bit of the shine off the event. This year, I think everyone drowned exactly as they would have in 1912.”
The original R.M.S. Titanic — thought to be unsinkable — struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic and sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912. More than 1500 passengers and crew drowned. The death toll for this year’s re-enactment was not quite so appalling.
“Just 357 bodies so far,” stated Stiverman. “I’d hoped for more. In 1999 we actually had 922 drowning victims, many of them in absolutely spot-on costumes. But people were excited about the movie back then. It’s harder to get re-enactors to go down with the ship these days; there’s so little respect for total authenticity.”
Among this year’s dead was Adrian Foch, 42, who was an extra in James Cameron’s 1997 Oscar-winning Titanic. “He signed hundreds of autographs on Tuesday,” Stiverman recounted. “And when the time came, he slid down the deck and was crushed by a falling Irishman, just as in the movie. It was definitely a highlight of the cruise.”
Stiverman added that he already has high expectations for the 125th anniversary of the sinking in 2037. “We’re anticipating a full complement of passengers and crew that year,” he said. “I’ve even contacted Leo DiCaprio. Sadly, he’s made other plans. But there’s always another sinking.”
At press time, re-enactors playing the part of rescuers searching for victims were said to be continuing to pretend to search.