Village of Lewiston recognizes 'Battle of Queenston Heights Commemoration and Re-enactment' organizersby jmaloni
Promises bigger Fourth of July fireworks display in 2013
Article and photos by Joshua Maloni
At Monday's work session, the Village of Lewiston Board of Trustees recognized the work of Historical Association of Lewiston volunteers Lee Simonson, Pam Hauth and Bruce Sutherland in organizing and promoting the recent "Battle of Queenston Heights Commemoration and Re-enactment." The two-day October event was billed as the largest binational War of 1812 event in North America this year. It was said to feature the largest battery of period artillery (cannons) ever assembled in one place.
While presenting a plaque to Simonson, Mayor Terry Collesano flat-out said the event wouldn't have happened without the efforts of the author and former Niagara County legislator.
In response, Simonson said, "This was a tremendous volunteer effort from beginning to end."
"We only had one shot at this thing," he noted. "It only happens once every 100 years."
Lewiston, Simonson said, was not previously known as a hotbed for historical re-enactments. However, the 250 re-enactors who participated (including many from around the country) couldn't say enough good things about the experience or about HAL's event structuring.
"We hit a home run here," Simonson said.
Hauth, who serves as HAL's executive director, said, "It was a great weekend. ... It was an amazing effort."
Sutherland said, "Lee is our Lewiston treasure."
The plaques state the recipients made an "outstanding contribution to the Village of Lewiston." Collesano praised HAL for its initiative and said it was the most active historical association he knew.
"This organization works, and they do a lot of good things for the community," he said.
The Village Board also acknowledged the fireworks display presented at the "Battle of Queenston Heights Commemoration and Re-enactment" by Skylighters of Western New York.
"We were all in awe of the fireworks show," Collesano said.
His colleagues agreed and, soon after the event, the village inquired about using Skylighters for next year's Fourth of July fireworks display. As it turns out, the company is available, "and it's going to be $1,000 cheaper," Collesano said.
"It's a no-brainer," Trustee Vic Eydt said, as the board approved a motion to hire Skylighters for $8,000.
The mayor promised a longer fireworks show with a grand finale.
HAL will host the third "Flames Through Lewiston" event on Saturday, Dec. 15, along Center Street. This presentation commemorates the burning of the village in 1813 by British forces, and the bravery of the Tuscarora Indians in fending off the troops while helping Lewistonians escape.