NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - OpSail 2012 is coming to an end as the tall ships still in Port leave Hampton Roads Tuesday morning in a parade of sail.
"We did a fantastic job and we exceeded everybody's expectations," says OpSail organizer and Festevents CEO Karen Scherberger who calls this the best waterfront festival she's seen in 30 years of running Festevents. "I have not had one complaint. That is not to say there aren't any complaints, but I haven't heard them and I would have heard."
Scherberger doesn't have final numbers, but the OpSail 2012 projections are as follows:
- Attendance will be more than 1.5 million people
- Economic impact greater than $120 million
Those numbers are based on OpSail 2000 numbers and Scherberger knows those numbers were beat this year.
The mass transit numbers are impressive, too:
- Light rail: 46,764 passengers
- Elizabeth River Ferry: 32,209 passengers
Tom Holden, who works with Hampton Roads Transit, says, "We always have a challenge when we have a crush load, the large numbers of people descending onto a station all at once time. We have to limit the number of people who can get on a train."
Holden also says the number of people using the ferry is very impressive.
In addition to all that, never before has there been a full integration of school buses in a transportation plan for waterfront festivals in Norfolk.
Lacy Caruth, who organized the buses, said, "They did a great job. It was fantastic. It was amazing. All the bus drivers worked together to get her done."
Brian Stanford, a crew member on RFA Argus from the United Kingdom, said, "The buses were brilliant. It was flexible. It was really good."
"All they had to do was get out of their car, and get down here and enjoy it," says Scherberger who also says the OpSail crowd filtered throughout Downtown Norfolk. "There was an interesting note I received from a Granby Street restaurant. He claims the best two nights he's ever had since opening was Friday and Saturday...he credits the transportation system we have in place."
Scherberger thinks this is critical because plans to re-do waterside will attract more people who she thinks will find their ways to other parts of Norfolk, "Once you bring people downtown, they will find their way to shops and other restaurants, and this was a good indication that formula works."
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