All the planning is over, now let the party begin. The most anticipated festival in Connecticut this year has begun - OpSail 2012 in connection with the annual Sailfest.
OpSail, the tall ships festival, part of a national 200th anniversary commemoration for the War of 1812, is making its final stop of a multi-city tour in New London this weekend.
OpSail organizers overcame major challenges to make this festival a reality. Fundraising was difficult in a sluggish economy, particularly given that southeastern Connecticut has lagged behind the recovery curve.
Connecticut capped its contribution at a maximum of $500,000 which, while appreciated, is a fraction of the money coming from the state when the tall ships came to the region back in 2000. And we continue to shake a fist at Newport, R.I., which scheduled its own tall ships festival for this weekend.
But those adversities did not stop the show. Tens of thousands people will line our local shores this morning to watch the parade of ships. Festival activities will continue across several towns throughout the weekend. The Day and theday.com will keep the public informed of the events and any changes you need to know about
As we've said before, this achievement reflects positively on the people of southeastern Connecticut, their elected officials and civic and business leaders. Sure, there is always plenty to disagree about, but when it comes time to pull together to prepare for a great party, those differences get set aside.
And let's remember that 35 community businesses, including this newspaper, embraced OpSail with sponsorships. That commitment in difficult times is impressive and was vital to the event's success.
And once again the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation deserves a shout out for its sponsorship of tonight's fireworks extravaganza. Despite facing its own fiscal challenges, the tribe found a way to step up and underwrite the fireworks display for a 20th consecutive year.
So enjoy the tall ships, the music, food and the many events that will take place across our region. It will be a boost for the economy, and for local pride. The crowds will be large, so be courteous and patient; and in all things, practice moderation.
The wait has ended - enjoy!