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Fleet Week in NYC expected to welcome 2,300 sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen

Festivities officially kick off Wednesday with the ceremonial parade of ships, which will include 13 American ships and one Canadian vessel.

A mini-armada glided into New York Harbor on Wednesday to deliver swarms of white-suited sailors onto the streets of New York City to mark Fleet Week, a seven-day spectacle of military exhibitions and shore-leave revelry. (Credit: News 12 Long Island)

Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen travel to some of the most remote places across the world — but for them, nothing beats the Big Apple during Fleet Week.

Aside from the chance to explore the city’s standard hot spots, armed service members look forward to the hospitality New Yorkers may not be as quick to offer just any visitor.

“They buy them drinks at bars, [and] escort them to places instead of just giving them directions. They are doing more than just saying those two words, ‘Thank You,’ and that’s pretty awesome,” said Susan Marenoff-Zausner, the president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

The armed services will also roll out a welcome of their own. The 30th Fleet Week will commence Wednesday with the ceremonial parade of ships, featuring 13 American ships and one Canadian vessel.

Navy spokeswoman Beth Baker said several special ships will be docked throughout the five boroughs, including the oceanographic survey ship USNS Maury. The ship’s civilian crew will be on hand at Staten Island’s Homeport Pier to show New Yorkers how they study the oceans and climate.

“We’re really excited to have her over here,” Baker said of the Maury. “As some of the school children come to talk with our meteorologist on board, we think they will be excited.”

In total, there will be around 2,300 military personnel visiting the city during Fleet Week, which officially began in 1984. Baker said the event has attracted an increasing number of visitors over the years as service members engage more and more with New Yorkers during their time off, including through performing community service at homeless shelters and schools.

“The thing about New York is that, like our members, [residents] come from all over the world as well but share the sense of selfless service and duty,” she said.

Marenoff-Zausner said the biggest change she’s observed is the number of New Yorkers actively taking part in events. And they are not people with family or friends in active duty, she said — they are adults and children who have read about the sacrifices our military have made, especially in the last 17 years.

“It doesn’t matter what [political] side you’re on, we realize that they are human beings,” Marenoff-Zausner said.

Navy officials said New Yorkers continue to show their appreciation year-round. Colleges, businesses and services such as the city’s Office of Veterans Affairs have helped veterans make their transition into civilian life smoother.

“I’ve always been amazed with the outpouring of support from New York. I’ve never seen this level, year-round, in any other major city,” Baker said.

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