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A pair of ferry boats set to debut next year in Pensacola Bay now have names, thanks to some area fourth graders, Gulf Islands National Seashore officials announced Monday.

The ferries will be dubbed Turtle Runner, named by Ms. Bradley’s class at Brentwood Elementary School, and Pelican Perch, named by Ms. Steven’s class at Cordova Park Elementary School.

The winning ferry names were chosen from 88 submissions by nearly 900 Santa Rosa and Escambia County fourth graders. A panel of judges from the local community and the national seashore scored the submissions based on their connection to the national seashore’s natural and cultural resources, as well as their creativity and how catchy the names sounded.

All students from the winning classes will be invited as special guests to the ribbon cutting ceremony in 2017, followed by a free ride on the ferry’s inaugural trip for the students and up to 3 family members.

Workers in Bellingham, Wash. are in the process of fabricating the hulls of the 150-foot ferry vessels. (All American Marine/Special to The Pulse)

Workers in Bellingham, Wash. are in the process of fabricating the hulls of the 150-foot ferry vessels. (All American Marine/Special to The Pulse)

The contest was a part of the National Park Service’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, which allows fourth graders to obtain a free pass to all national parks through August 2016.

A project of the National Parks Service in cooperation with city and county governments, the long-planned passenger ferry service between downtown Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, and Fort Pickens is expected to begin in March 2017. The Park Service has estimated that over 65,000 passengers will take advantage of the ferry system each year.

The 150-passenger ferry boats are currently under construction in Washington State and are expected to be delivered to Pensacola early next year.

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