BOSTON (CBS) — The world’s largest regatta kicked off Saturday morning in Boston and Cambridge. More than 250,000 people are expected to turn out over the weekend for the 55th Head of the Charles.

The two-day event brings in some of the best rowers from around the world. Preparations were underway before the sun rose Saturday to get ready for the huge crowd of spectators.

“Its a beautiful venue. I come here to see all my old friends, and it’s something to work for during the summer,” said visitor John McIntyre.

Related: Weston Man Goes For 8th Straight Win At Head Of The Charles Regatta

The tradition in Boston unlike any other attracts over 11,000 athletes and includes hundreds of schools, universities and organizations.

It’s also a boon for the local economy, generating more than $80 million.

Seth Rabinowitiz, 51, came to the event from New York City with his college classmates from Williams College. He’s been rowing since 1982.

“When you get to be over 50 it’s the camaraderie…it’s about hanging with the guys.” Rabinowitz said.

The Rowing Company will be busy all weekend making equipment repairs.

“This is our largest event. We bring down about a third of our company,” said Meredith Breiland of The Rowing Company. “We’re assisting competitors with their oar needs.”

The event is free but there are parking restrictions in place. Parts of Memorial Drive will be closed over the weekend.

Anyone planning to watch the race is encouraged to use public transit. More information for spectators can be found here.

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