Retired Navy captain named maritime festival's chief operating officer

New London — Marcus Fisk, a retired Navy captain, has been named chief operating officer of the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival, which typically draws thousands of people to the city's waterfront in late summer.

Though the festival's fate was in doubt following last year's event, organizers announced in a news release Tuesday that the sixth annual festival is planned for Sept. 5-9, a five-day stretch. Past festivals have spanned three days.

Fisk succeeds Bruce MacDonald, who has been involved with the festival since its inception in 2013 and before that with its predecessor, OpSail Connecticut 2012. MacDonald has agreed to continue serving on the executive board of the nonprofit group that oversees the festival, according to the release. He said personal commitments in the months ahead would keep him from devoting sufficient time to the festival.

“Although I am stepping aside from an active management role, I am not stepping away from this important expression of Connecticut’s maritime heritage and this region, which has played a key role in it,” MacDonald said. “Working with this group of community-minded volunteers has given me a great deal of satisfaction, and I look forward to continuing that relationship in my new role.”

A 1978 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Fisk retired from the Navy in 2008 after a career spanning 30 years of active and reserve duty. He and his wife, Pamela, run the Coastal Cottage Inn, a bed-and-breakfast on Montauk Avenue in New London. He also is a playwright and author, and was the technical advisor for the Discovery Channel production "Vietnam POWs: Stories of Survival," which received the 1998 Primetime Emmy Award for Best Documentary.

Last year, Mayor Michael Passero appointed Fisk to the Municipal Revenue Board, charged with recommending ways the city can generate revenue.

"I’m excited to be part of this wonderful festival, which highlights our state’s important maritime heritage,” Fisk said in the festival news release. “It is an honor to be part of such an amazing event that brings visitors the experience of seeing this exciting maritime history first-hand.”

Festival Chairman John Johnson praised MacDonald's contributions, adding that he was looking forward to working with Fisk "as we present our best festival yet."

Plans call for this year’s festival to again feature tall ships, maritime education programs, the New London Chowder Challenge and the Morgan Cup Challenge, a schooner race. For the second consecutive year, the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative will serve as the festival's title sponsor.

Ships secured for the festival include the schooner Brilliant from Mystic Seaport; New London’s tall ship, the Mystic Whaler; the replica fishing schooner Columbia; and the schooner Tree Of Life. Navy and Coast Guard vessels also are expected to participate.

Festival organizers reported last fall that the 2017 festival generated an estimated $84,000 worth of direct economic activity, a sum that did not include the additional business downtown bars, restaurants and retailers saw during the event. The festival's main attraction was the USS Cole, the guided-missile destroyer attacked by suicide bombers during an Oct. 12, 2000, refueling stop in Yemen. More than 6,000 visitors took guided tours of the ship.


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