Fleet Week: New Yorkers bummed as the annual bash is canned
Something's going to be missing from New York City this spring: sailors.
Because of federal budget cuts, the Navy's annual Fleet Week soiree in the city has been canned for this year, officials said Wednesday.
The weeklong revelry costs the Navy between $7 million and $10 million, as ships dock all over the city, men and women in dress white uniforms flood the streets and civilians can get an up-close view of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard equipment.
"Unfortunately, there will be no Navy ships in New York this year for Fleet Week and no additional sailors or marines," the Navy said in a statement, adding that it hopes to have future Fleet Weeks.
This year's event was set for May 23-30. Fleet Week has been held in New York since 1984.
The city is expected to miss out on some $20 million that Fleet Week brings in every year, officials said, and New Yorkers are sad to miss one of the signature events that ushers in summer in the city.
"I love when they come into town because it gives us a chance to show these kids out of state and out of town what we're like," said Pete Fitzpatrick, a retired Marine who owns a handful of bars in the city.
"It's a really cool time and it sucks they're not going to do it," he said.
Some service members are upset too, as it is one of the few chances they have to connect with civilians.
"It's a way for people to say, 'OK, these are not people on a TV screen. They are people I can hang out with.' It's a lost opportunity," said a reservist, who wanted to be identified only as Mike.
Businesses will see the impact, too, and not only in lost revenue.
Danny DePamphilis, general manager at the bar Rudy's in Hell's Kitchen, said it's a time of the year the saloon always eagerly anticipates.
"Fleet Week would not make or break us, but . . . we make a big deal about it," DePamphilis said.
"These sailors, a lot of them can't buy a drink 'cause the customers are buying the drinks [for them]. . . . It's just great."
Tim Tompkins, head of the Times Square Alliance, said Fleet Week is a part of New York's character.
"Obviously it's bad for businesses, but it's so sad symbolically," Tompkins said. "Smooching sailors on shore leave has been a part of Times Square's history for a long time."