Friday, October 21 , 2016, 9:13 am | Fair 68º

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USS Ronald Reagan Stationed Off Santa Barbara Through the Weekend

Visitors have until Monday morning to catch a glimpse of the Navy carrier, marking its last visit to the city before it reaches its final destination in Japan next year

Visitors to the waterfront this weekend can catch a glimpse of the massive U.S. Navy super carrier the USS Ronald Reagan, which is stationed off Santa Barbara's coastline until Monday morning.

The ship arrived in the area Friday morning, and residents downtown most likely will spot thousands of the ship's sailors walking the area to take in the sights as they take their shore leave.

The ship has a long history with Santa Barbara, and Jason Nelson, spokesman for the Santa Barbara Navy League, said the organization has supported the ship since its commission, even adopting the unit.

The ship will be porting in Santa Barbara until Monday morning, and this will be the last visit to the city since it leaves for Japan next year, where it will be stationed permanently.

"This is not just a visit, but it's also a farewell," Nelson told Noozhawk on Friday morning.

Lucky members of the public will also get to experience the ship firsthand on guided tours being offered.

Though the Navy League provides the volunteers to lead the tour, Sea Landing coordinates the free tickets, which were first come, first serve, and completely booked within 24 hours, Nelson said.

More than 200 volunteers will be working to conduct the tours aboard the carrier, distribute information on the wharf and in other capacities this weekend.

Nelson estimates that 3,000 sailors will disembark into the city along with 7,000 family members, and that anywhere between 30,000 and 80,000 people will come to Santa Barbara just to see the ship.

"People just want to see it in the harbor," he said. "We're very excited to be a liberty port to the sailors" as well as bringing economic activity to the city. Many local businesses are offering discounts to the sailors.

The sailors are expected to begin shore leave at 2 p.m. Friday, and the public is encouraged to greet the sailors as they disembark from Stearns Wharf.

A full calendar of events taking place over the weekend is available by clicking here.

Several private events will be held, including an officer's reception at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club and a reception for the Master Chiefs, but on Sunday the public is invited to attend a barbecue on Sunday. That event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. and is being hosted at the Santa Barbara Carriage Museum.

Tickets are $20 and include a lunch of tri-tip, chicken barbecue, live music and special guest speakers. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

Also at noon nearby at Pershing Park, the crew will play the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriffs Association and Santa Barbara Fire Department in a softball game.

About 600 sailors also are taking on a variety of local volunteer projects, including helping Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County work on its affordable homes project on Canon Perdido Street.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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