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Fleet Week 2015 Kicks Off In Fort Lauderdale

The shores of South Florida greeted nearly 2,000 sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen Monday when the 25th annual Fleet Week kicked off in Port Everglades. 

The celebration, which lasts until May 10, provides several opportunities for the public to meet these servicemen and servicewomen. Events include Navy Band Southeast concerts on May 5 and 6 and a ping-pong tournament and a culinary competition on May 9. 

“Outreach like this is so important,” Navy spokesman Lt. Mike Hatfield told the Sun Sentinel while aboard the Wasp, one of the vessels docking at Port Everglades for the week. “It continues that relationship between the citizens and the sailors and Marines. We love to pull into port and invite as many people as possible to meet the sailors and Marines. Everybody on board is really excited.”

Aside from resting and relaxing, sailors will be volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and will be visiting hospital patients and school children, the outlet notes. 

For some, it's also a chance to reunite with family. 

I haven’t been home in over a year so it’s really nice to see palm trees and sunny skies. I’m dying to see my mom, of course,” Daniela Allen, with the US Navy, told CBS Miami.

Fleet Week is organized by Broward Navy Days, an organization that also gives back to American troops throughout the year by participating in ceremonies, planning events and supporting the activities of the U.S. Navy Southern Command and Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale.

Fleet Week is also celebrated in San Francisco and New York City, but Fort Lauderdale's celebration is the youngest, at only 25 years old. 

(Photo via Facebook/Fleet Week Port Everglades)