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Fleet Week in NYC: Military, city prepare big bash
Fleet Week returns to the Big Apple on Wednesday and after a federal sequester canceled last year's celebration, New Yorkers are extra eager to give back to the men and women of the armed services.
About 1,500 members of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard will take in the city's sights and sounds this year and there will be five ships docked in Staten Island and Manhattan. It's a smaller Fleet Week than past iterations -- 2012 brought in 6,000 servicemembers -- but Navy officials said those attending look forward to the week because of the positive attitude and energy of New Yorkers.
"The red carpet is really rolled out for us and we really appreciate it," said Commander Corey Barker, a Navy spokesman.
City officials and businesses said the celebrations, which have been going on since 1984, are very important to the city, having become a beloved tradition while enhancing NYC's image and boosting it economically.
"Last year, [the cancellation] was very emotional for everyone who works here," said Susan Marenoff-Zausner, the president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. "But now we're absolutely thrilled by their presence and all of New York is ready to give them a big thank you."
Although there are fewer ships and armed service members this year due to budget and scheduling issues, the Navy does have a full slate of events , including the parade of ships on Wednesday and military band concerts throughout the city.
"The Navy works very hard to make it a great event for the city," Barker said.
Marenoff-Zausner said she expects huge crowds to turn out for the Fleet Week events at the Intrepid, including a USO show and afree screening of the 1986 hit "Top Gun."
"It is definitely one of our busiestweeks of the year," she said. "Our entire team is so excited and we just want to embrace these great men and women for the work they've done for our country."
Of course, the Intrepid isn't the only city locale to see a business boost during Fleet Week, according to the city's Economic Development Corporation. The agency said the 2012 celebrations created an economic impact of $20 million and they expect similar figures for its return this year.
"Fleet Week excites communities while providing the city with millions of dollars in economic activity -- increasing foot traffic for local businesses and generating spending across all five boroughs," EDC spokesman Ian Fried said in a statement.
Barker said the Navy is proud to give the city that boost and that in the end, Fleet Week provides a great way for the troops to reaffirm their duty.
"I can tell you, the sailors and Marines who are coming are very excited. The feeling on those ships is electric," he said.