NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Federal budget cuts have forced the U.S. Navy to cancel Fleet Week in New York City.
In a statement, Director of Public Affairs Beth Baker said, “There will be no Navy ships in New York this year for Fleet Week and no additional sailors or Marines.”
The Navy had to make hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts and one way it decided to save money was to cancel community outreach efforts like Fleet Week.
Baker told 1010 WINS it is very expensive for the Navy to visit the city annually, but some of the local personnel will still be able to hold outreach and community events.
“We greatly appreciate the city’s patience and understanding during these unusual times,” Baker said.
GALLERY: Fleet Week 2012 — Parade Of Ships
“This is something paid for by the federal government and they’ve got to make decisions in terms of deploying their resources, I assume, to protect the country or deploying their resources to advertise that these are great careers, join the military services,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb on Wednesday afternoon.
The mayor added while it would be nice to continue the tradition of Fleet Week this year, he is not going to second-guess the Defense Department’s decision.
“I don’t think that we should get in the way of making the decision for them, of what’s needed to keep you and I safe,” Bloomberg told CBS 2’s Lou Young.
The annual event is a very popular part of the tourism life of New York City and the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. It contributes tens of millions of dollars to the economy and millions in city tax revenue.
Predictably, New Yorkers were disappointed.
In Brooklyn, an Atlantic Avenue restaurant owner said he fears empty tables instead of the waiting line usually seen during Fleet Week.
“We’re losing people. We’re losing people,” said Tom Cucco of Table 47. “They’re not coming for Fleet Week because they’re not here.”
Near Stapleton Pier on Staten Island, Layla Valazquez said she will miss the male ambiance the most.
“Last year they were amazing here, but not this year,” she said. “That’s really sad; disappointing.”
Her boss at Bari Pizza is already putting a price tag on the cancellation.
“Ten thousand and up,” said Sam Bari, “‘cause they used to all come here. This is the only pizzeria around.”
Last year was the 25th anniversary of Fleet Week. Some of the attractions included nine tall ships and nine Navy aircraft carriers and destroyers.