You know it's OpSail when you see tall ships on the horizon but when a Navy LCAC in Niantic, well, that's not something you see every day!
Sen. Richard Blumenthal probably put it best when he said there was really just one word to describe it: "Wow!"
"This is an unbelievable opportunity," said East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica. "To be part of this regional extravaganza. This wonderful view and venue is a great place for us to honor the crews and all those men and women in the armed forces who support us."
Some 450 crew members from the USS Carter Hall were feted with a dinner prepared by TVCCA, which served a New England-style meal of grilled swordfish and barbequed chicken along with desserts, the fixings for which were all donated by local businesses.
Heather Caulkins, who led the team organizing the Niantic festivities which took six months to plan, came ashore with some of them. She actually got to ride in the LCAC!
"It was a smooth ride," she said. "It was awesome!"
That seemed to be the general consensus.
"I looked at them coming ashore and said, Boy, I'm glad these are friendly folks," said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. "I'd be pretty scared if they weren't!"
with a Parade of Sail into New London, where people will have the opportunity to tour the USS Carter Hall from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The USCGC Eagle will host tours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and a number of U.S. Service Ships will be open for tours too.
These tours are offered from both the New London State Pier and from Fort Trumbull State Park. They are available on a first come, first served basis, so get there early and wear appropriate shoes just to be on the safe side.
There will be live music performances on stages all over downtown New London and plenty of places from which to view the tall ships. The big event tonight, of course, is the fireworks display sponsored by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and its Foxwoods Casino at 9 p.m.
If you don't feel like , there's free parking offered at satellite lots at New London High School and , which will be hubs for free shuttle buses to and from City Pier in New London.
Additional shuttles to Fort Trumbull will run from and Ocean State Job Lot in Waterford and from Connecticut College in New London. Buses start running at 7 a.m. and in-city shuttles begin at 8 a.m. This service is also offered free to visitors.