The Nova Star ferry will bring its first load of passengers from Portland to Yarmouth overnight Thursday.

The ferry will dock at 8 a.m. Friday in Yarmouth, ending a five-year run where there has been no ferry service between Nova Scotia and Maine.

Signs and other messages have gone up all over town as the people of Yarmouth get ready to embrace the first boat load of Americans to arrive in town since 2009.

"Well it's quite exciting, actually. I think everyone in the town seems to be very optimistic and hopeful. It's nice to have a change from the negative attitude in the past,” said Charles Deveau, of Acadian Glass Art.

Over the last five years, one hotel and several other businesses closed as the economy in the town dried up without a ferry.

Deveau is just one of the many business owners in Yarmouth who are hoping Friday is the beginning of a new economic era.

“It will have a trickle-down effect,” said Craig Ward, owner of the ShackWhacky Art and Photography shop. “Other shops will make money and spend more money locally and some can have more staff — that sort of thing."

Earlier this week, the company that operates the ferry made big cuts to ticket prices hoping to attract more passengers. They also announced children under the age of 18 can travel for free.

"This year will probably be the test run,” said Sandy Dennis of Sandy's Gifts. “Next year I'm hoping we'll see more businesses open and I think they will, but it all depends on the ferry and how many people we get through here."

Nova Star said they are hoping for 100,000 passengers this season. On Wednesday there were 300 people booked for the first sailing.

The Nova Star can carry 1,200 people and more than 300 cars at a time.