Sailfest Safety: A Priority for First Responders

Around 300,000 people are expected to pour into New London this weekend for the 41st annual Sailfest. The multi-day event is “hands down” the busiest weekend of the year in New London, according to city police Chief Peter Reichard.

Safety procedures have been in the works in January and there is a lot of help from local, state and federal agencies.

New this year, along with barricades, there will be dump trucks and garbage trucks where the roads are closed down.

“From what we’ve seen around the globe taking place in Europe and other countries where people are using vehicles to hit pedestrians,” Reichard said.

Divers are checking the piers and there will be trained crews on the water.

Waterford Officer Patrick Flanagan will represent one of the agencies on the Thames River, making sure boaters are following the rules of the water and enforcing a 1,000-foot safety zone around the fireworks barge.

“I think a lot of the public has heard about happened up in Middletown with the firework show (where the barge caught on fire) so we want to make sure we keep people away as far as possible,” Flanagan said.

A command center is headquartered at the Fire Department.

When it comes to medical needs, there are two aid stations and help can travel to people via EMS bikes and walking patrols, according to New London Fire Chief Henry Kydd.

Police and organizers are asking people to not bring coolers nor pets and warning that bags could be checked.

Reichard also said try to limit what is brought in a stroller since it will get very crowded, especially during the fireworks, and will be difficult to navigate through the crowds.

Sailfest started at 3 p.m. on Friday and runs until 6 p.m. on Sunday. The fireworks are at 9 p.m. on Saturday.

NBC Connecticut is a proud media sponsor of Sailfest.

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