Crowds grab best viewing spots for Parade of Sail

Linda and Michael Olsen, of Waterford view the ships anchored in Niantic harbor as part of OpSail 2012CT from the bluff at McCook's Point.
Linda and Michael Olsen, of Waterford view the ships anchored in Niantic harbor as part of OpSail 2012CT from the bluff at McCook's Point. Bob MacDonnell/Special to The Day Buy Photo

New London -- People eager to get dibs on a front row seat for today's Parade of Sail were setting out chairs on the beaches of New London by 7 a.m.

From Ocean Beach Park on up Pequot Avenue the chairs are sprouting under a hot and hazy sky.

For those who were here for OpSail 2000 the weather seems familiar, and there is the same hope as at every year's Sailfest: that no thunderstorms will brew at fireworks time.

Almost two dozen ships, led by the Coast Guard barque Eagle, will leave Niantic this morning around 9:30. The best locations to watch the Parade of Sail include Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, Ocean Beach Park in New London and Avery Point and Eastern Point in Groton.

The parade up the Thames River will begin at 10 a.m., when Eagle rounds New London Ledge Light at the mouth of New London Harbor. At 11 a.m., there will be a flyover by U.S. Coast Guard aircraft. All of the ships will motor or sail up the Thames River approximately to City Pier, from which they will disperse to their assigned berths at State Pier, City Pier and Fort Trumbull.

Ships will be open for visits from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. today at Fort Trumbull, City Pier and State Pier. The Eagle closes at 4 p.m. at Fort Trumbull.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will officially welcome the fleet at 12:15 p.m. at Fort Trumbull.

Sailfest will continue today, running from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The annual fireworks display, sponsored by the Mashantucket Pequots, is scheduled to begin about 9 p.m. The fireworks are viewable from various spots on the New London and Groton shore. If you can't attend, the fireworks will be streamed live on theday.com. The livestreaming is sponsored by Foxwoods, Cumulus Broadcasting, Keith's Appliance, Crest Ford and Mystic Boathouse.

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