December 18, 2014

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Battle of Lake Erie re-enactment draws thousands to Put-in-Bay

The Battle of Lake Erie re-enactment involved several tall ships, including the Pride of Baltimore, that came off the shores of Put-In-Bay on Monday to re-enact the historical battle that served as the turning point in the War of 1812. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

The Pride of Baltimore was among the tall ships that came off the shores of Put-In-Bay on Monday to re-enact the Battle of Lake Erie, which served as the turning point in the War of 1812. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Flags reading, “Don’t give up the ship,” hung high with Ohio pride as boats drifted off the shores of South Bass Island early Monday morning for the bicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie.

The famous words, attributed to dying U.S. Navy Cmdr. James Lawerance aboard the USS Chesapeake and written on a battle flag U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry was flying on his ship the Niagra, reflect a turning point during the War of 1812, where 557 patriots were able to defeat the British on Lake Erie.

History would repeat itself on the battle’s bicentennial anniversary as thousands of festivalgoers had the unique opportunity to relive and participate in a major piece of Ohio maritime and American history.

Festivalgoers gathered off shore of Put-In-Bay after sailing into an overcast sky threatening storms. Waves slapped the sides of the boats as spectators gathered and anxiously awaited the tall ships to leave the docks at Put-In-Bay. However as the tall ships sailed off to battle, 8 miles off shore, the weather quickly turned to sunshine during the afternoon.

As the tall ships left the harbor, safety boat volunteers, working in conjunction with the United States Coast Guard, enforced a strict 500-yard perimeter for spectators to maintain throughout the re-enactment in order to keep the event running safely and smoothly.

Using sirens, horns and whistles, the safety boats and Coast Guard escorted the ships to the spot in which the re-enactment would take place. In what would be considered a full house, boats packed with thousands of festivalgoers, densely surrounded the perimeter of the reenactment as the tall ships sailed into position for battle.

The tall ships demonstrated their maneuvers, replicating the Battle of Lake Erie, for spectators. Cannon fire could be heard, and actors aboard the tall ships could be seen depicting the actions of the heroes of the Battle of Lake Erie.

After the re-enactment had concluded, the ships prepared one last maneuver for their audience. The British fired into the starboard side of the Niagara before completing the show and serving as the dramatic conclusion to a five-day celebration commemorating the battle. The tall ships then returned to port where many of them were open for tours for many spectators left on land.

Contact Kristin Bauer at 329-7155 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.