Past & present US Military admitted free
The Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, launched the American Revolution. This history will be retold and re-enacted on April 21 and 22 at Old Fort Niagara.
"Patriots Day Weekend" is the inaugural event of the fort's re-enactment season with living-history programs that are suitable for all ages.
Patriots Day Weekend will also honor all U.S. military service people, who will be admitted free with proper ID. A ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday will award special plaques to:
•Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, U.S. Army, Iraq War hero who received the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and was nominated for a Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross; inducted into New York State Veterans Hall of Fame.
•Master Sgt. Paul Baumgarte, U.S. Army Air Corps, World War II (posthumously), who specialized in electronics, computers and in the development of nuclear weapons.
Volunteer re-enactors from Hoisington's New York Rangers sponsor this annual event with the help of Brant's Volunteers, 64th Regiment of Foot, and Fort McIntosh Garrison re-enactment units. They will portray Colonial Rebels, Colonial Loyalist and British Redcoats; present musket-firing and clothing demonstrations as well as 18th century military drills; and be available to meet with visitors and answer questions. Guests will also be able to "enlist" as a rebel or loyalist and participate in mock battles using wooden muskets.
The daily schedule follows:
- 10 a.m., assemble - Re-enactors will gather on the parade grounds
- 11 a.m., recruiting demonstration - Children and adults can "enlist" as rebels or loyalists
- Noon, storytelling about the Battles of Lexington and Concord that started the American Revolution
- 1 p.m., clothing demonstration
- 2 p.m., Saturday: Patriots Day ceremony and musket firing
- 2 p.m., Sunday: Patriots Day honors and musket firing
- 3:15 p.m., infantry demonstration
- 4:15 p.m., musket-firing demonstration
Additionally, guided tours of Old Fort Niagara will be available both days and are included in admission.
Daily admission to Patriots Day Weekend is $12 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-12, free for children ages 5 and under, and free for Old Fort Niagara Association members. Veterans and active military service people will be admitted free with proper ID.
Old Fort Niagara's re-enactment season continues with regular events each month.
•May 19-20: Civil War Artillery School: Civil War re-enactors practice their weaponry skills at the fort.
•May 26-27: "Soldiers through the Ages": Meet soldiers from the 17th through 20th centuries in this "timeline" event. Special programs and displays interpret military life from early explorers through the Vietnam War.
•June 9-10: "Civil War Garrison": Travel back to the 1860s when the Union feared British intervention on the side of the Confederacy.
•June 29-July 1: "French and Indian War Encampment": Relive the Siege of 1759 when British and New York soldiers besieged French-held Fort Niagara. The event comes complete with battle re-enactments and large living history camps.
•July 28-29: "War of 1812 Grand Encampment": This event commemorates the fort's role in the War of 1812. Large-scale battle re-enactments and living history programs will make this the largest binational War of 1812 re-enactment of the year.
•Aug. 18-19: "Soldiers of the Revolution": This living history event recreates the War for Independence on the New York frontier. This event features battle re-enactments, hands-on activities for families, plus music and games.
Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) is a Registered National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association, a not-for-profit organization, in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last tickets sold at 4:30 p.m.