BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– The man who helped build up Canalside, and spread his passion of sailing, was brought through the area one last time today.
Ric Hilliman, who brought the Spirit of Buffalo to the Queen City, passed away last week.
Friends and colleagues say Ric played a huge role in building up Canalside and bringing visitors there with his passion for what he did.
In May of 2009 before Canalside’s boardwalk was even complete, he brought the Spirit of Buffalo there.
The 73-foot topsail schooner’s iconic red sails are a familiar sight.
Later, he put three other boats on the water, the Harbor Queen, the River Queen, and the Queen City Bike Ferry. And because Canalside meant so much to him, a procession brought him through the area one last time today.
Colleagues and friends of Ric told us today that he lit up when he was off land, and his affection for Buffalo and the water was felt by everyone who sailed with him.
The four boats that were run by Ric offered nightly and daily cruises, cocktail tours, history tours, and more.
Spirit of Buffalo Captain Joe Bella says Ric had one more surprise for Buffalo before he passed and they’re going to be showing that off this summer.
So, look out for another party-type boat on the water in a few months.
Bella says the business will stay in Ric’s family, it will be run by his wife and son.
Ric also volunteered on the Buffalo fireboat Edward Cotter and previously served as the Captain of the Miss Buffalo, the Lockport Canal boats, and the Moondance.