The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) will pay a port call to Santa Barbara next month, dropping anchor Jan. 11-14, the Santa Barbara Navy League confimed Wednesday.
The arrival of the Reagan, the largest and newest aircraft carrier in the U.S. fleet, will mark the biggest naval crew visit to Santa Barbara since President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet stopped here in 1908.
“This event provides Santa Barbara and the entire tri-county area the opportunity to both celebrate history and make history,” said Karen Crawford, president of the Navy League of the United States-Santa Barbara Council.
“The timing of this visit, which coincides with the 100-year anniversary of Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet visit to Santa Barbara, is a tremendous testament to our city’s rich maritime legacy.”
While the 20-story tall ship — which is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall — will fill Santa Barbara’s horizon, the vessel’s 4,000 crew and family members will fill its streets during the weekend visit. In preparation, the Navy League has scheduled a plethora of festive events, which include special tours of local museums, sporting events, concerts, wine tours, dinners and barbecues, seminars and visits to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Foundation in Simi Valley.
“It is our goal to show these dedicated men and women our support and appreciation before they head off on their third deployment to the Middle East in early spring,” Crawford said. “Dozens of businesses and families are joining the Navy League to sponsor this 2008 Business Leader Welcome Weekend; hundreds of volunteers are joining the ranks to handle the logistics of welcoming over 4,000 crew and family members; and thousands of citizens will be greeting the crew and their families at more than 15 venues throughout the tri-counties.”
Highlights of the weekend include a Western Steak Dinner BBQ & Dance at the Carriage Museum on Jan. 11. Jan. 12 will include baseball, softball, basketball and soccer games between the ship’s teams and the community’s fire, police and traveling teams; a concert in the park and a Navy aircraft flyover; and a Young Sailor’s Concert at the Arlington Theatre. Rancho San Marcos Golf Course will host the USS Ronald Reagan Welcome Golf Tournament, and the weekend will wrap up with a Santa Barbara Navy League member reception aboard the ship on Jan. 13.
No public tours of the ship will be available but community members are invited to participate in the Navy League’s Adopt-A-Sailor program. For more information, call Doug Crawford, Navy League national director, at 805.879.1777.
Among the USS Ronald Reagan’s ship sponsors are Noozhawk.com, Bacara Resort & Spa, Herb and Helen Gordon, the Wood Claeyssens Foundation, Cox Communications, the Dreier Family, POW Capt. Charlie Plumb, Victor Adkins, NASCAR, Big Dog, Raytheon, Trade Express, the Wilczak Family Foundation, Lanspeed, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust and the Walters Group.