With Sequester, Expect a Smaller Port Everglades Fleet Week in 2013

Fewer ships and sailors are expected than in previous years

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Washington's so-called sequester budget cuts will almost certainly scale back one of South Florida's signature events: Fleet Week at Port Everglades. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler spoke about the event.

    Washington's so-called sequester budget cuts will almost certainly scale back one of South Florida's signature events.

    Fleet Week at Port Everglades is scheduled for next month, but It likely won't be as big as previous years.

    "If it is scaled back we are not going to let those sailors know," Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler said.

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    With the Lauderdale Air Show returning this Saturday and Sunday and Fleet Week also taking place, this weekend promises to be one of the busiest tourist weekends in South Florida. "That weekend alone could pay my entire rent for two months," said Megan Haggins, a bartender in Fort Lauderdale. NBC 6 took a helicopter flight with Lt. Bill Dunbar Wednesday in the Coast Guard's Dolphin, which will do a demonstration in the air show.

    "We're going to show the same appreciation, the same admiration and they're going to feel as welcome as any group that has ever come here," he added.

    Event organizers confirm at least three Navy ships and one Coast Guard vessel will be at Fleet Week.

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    The Lauderdale Air Show returned after five years Saturday. The show will also run from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

    That's fewer ships compared to previous years. And the number of sailors attending is expected to drop from some 2,500 to 700.

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    Seiler said Fort Lauderdale is feeling the sequestration pinch in other areas too.

    "At City Hall I am seeing it with federal contracts, my Broward Workforce Development Board meeting this morning, we have a plan for sequestration now, so we are seeing it across all spectrums here in South Florida," he said.

    Businesses along Fort Lauderdale Beach look forward to the influx of people during Fleet Week.

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    But because of the expected downsize, the economic impact might not carry the same punch this year.

    The mayor says Fleet Week isn't about the money.

    "At the end of the day if there was no economic impact, the chance for this community to open up our arms and open up our homes to the men and women who serve, the men and women who sacrifice, I think we will do it regardless," Seiler said.