New London, Conn. (WTNH) - OpSail 2012 could be getting as much as $500,000 from the state but only if organizers can raise their own money as well.
When OpSail 2012 sails into New London the Coast Guard's Barque Eagle will be leading the way with all the tall ships following behind. Organizers say with the state's commitment to help this event is going to happen.
The grandeur of seeing the tall ships sail into New London harbor is expected to be the same as it was during OpSail 2000.
"It's recalling the past and it's very dramatic to see these ships in port," said Opsail chair John Johnson.
However the economic seas are a bit rougher this time around. Instead of the $6 million plus given by the state, the Opsail 2012 committee asked for half a million in matching funds.
"The economy is totally changed from 2000," Johnson said. "We all know the problems that the state is having, we all know the problems that private is having."
Johnson will revisit some of the same donors if he can.
"There's a lot of people that are no longer in play in this part of the world such as Pfizer," he said.
But he's up for the challenge especially since OpSail is expected to bring in as many as 750,000 visitors to New London the weekend of July 6. Events like such as this one help shine a light on the sometimes struggling city.
"I definitely think that they serve as a reminder because we are a little bit sad and we need a little bit of a pick me up," said Courtney Scruggs from Flavour of Life.
Merchants like Flavour of Life are also hoping the state's help will keep the wind at their backs.
"This gives us the ability and the incentive to be able to explain to a donor that if you give us $10 we get $5 from the state," Johnson said.
Part of the money will goes to appearance fees for the ships which can be up to $25,000.
Organizers expect about four of the international ships and dozens of others.
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