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Published: Wednesday, 8/29/2012

Attendance for Navy Week tops Chicago's, Milwaukee's

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Navy Week brought more people to Toledo's docks than the same event in Chicago or Milwaukee.

Toledo officials said 32,900 people toured ships and a Sea Hawk 60 helicopter Friday through Sunday, besting the numbers counted touring ships in Chicago or Milwaukee.

Five vessels -- U.S. and Canadian frigates, a Navy patrol boat, a Coast Guard ice-breaking tug, and the rebuilt War of 1812 Brig Niagara -- sailed into Toledo on Thursday to start a long weekend of tours and activities.

Their visit was part of a six-city U.S. tour, plus several stops in Canada, timed to commemorate the War of 1812's bicentennial as well as to promote the modern Navy.

"Anecdotally, they pushed approximately 12,000 on Friday; however, the Niagara did not have public tours Saturday due to a day sail, which brought totals down to about 8,000 for the day," said city spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei. "Total visitors were back up to about 10,000 Sunday when the Niagara reopened for general public viewing."

Navy Spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flesvig said 20,069 people toured Navy ships in Milwaukee; 19,408 toured in Chicago.

"Chicago also had lower numbers as the [USS De Wert] was anchored out, which made public tours slightly more complicated than boarding pierside as in Toledo," Ms. Sorgenfrei said.

The Bell administration said Navy officials indicated they could come back next year for another Navy Week.

"All of Toledo can be proud for the welcome we provided the Navy," Mayor Mike Bell said. "It was a great week for the city. We showcased our downtown and our riverfront, and our city showed that we can provide excellent hospitality. I hope we get to welcome the Navy back to Toledo again next year to commemorate the Battle of Lake Erie."

The two frigates -- USS De Wert and HMCS Ville de Quebec -- docked off One Maritime Plaza, just downstream from the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge. The coastal patrol boat USS Hurricane, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay, and the Brig Niagara docked at International Park.



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