Archive for the 'Harbor Illumination' Category

The Toledo Symphony Returns

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 2.48.59 PM“Friends of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial”, better known as the “Perry Group” is the official National Park Service registered support group for our monument and it’s mission here in Put-in-Bay.

Many years ago we were one of the first non-profit groups in Ohio to get a special license plate designed and issued by the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles. Every time you see a car with the Monument on the plate that person is helping us to provide support to our NPS site here in Put-in-Bay.

Over the past 25+ years the Perry Group helped raise funds to build the visitor center, underwrite the Dean Mosher paintings hanging there, secure artifacts, publish Gerard Altoff’s books, and even build “Perry’s Longboat” all with your help. Annually we are often asked to provide support for events, re-enactors, rentals, and music.

One of the most delightful parts of our summer is bringing the renowned Toledo Symphony to the island. The Toledo Symphony has recorded and performed with great musicians like Vladimir Ashkenazy, Isaac Stern, Aaron Copland, and Itzhak Perlman, and has even performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Last year during our Bicentennial Celebration scheduling precluded us from inviting the full symphony to perform so that the time and attention of historic Saturday’s events could be focused on Park Canada’s amazing “Tattoo” performance.

We engaged a small Toledo Symphony ensemble to play after the Tattoo as our Harbor Illumination was being set up. They delivered a beautiful performance. Our regular contact at the Toledo Symphony over the years has been Sandra Clark. Sandra had always made sure that we had the best event possible with top musicians and a great conductor making the journey to the island to play.

She asked that when we brought the Symphony back in 2014 that they be able to play once again on the plaza at the monument. This is a wonderful tradition that dates back well over a decade here on Historic Weekend. We have requested this for 2014. Sadly Sandra unexpectedly passed away two weeks ago without being able to return with the Symphony.So that makes this quite a special year for us at the Perry Group as we remember our friend Sandra while presenting the Toledo Symphony once again here at Perry’s Victory.

So come help us continue to commemorate the War of 1812. This 200th anniversary year (1814) will be remembered for the noted famous poem “The Defense of Fort McHenry” written by Francis Scott Key. Of course we now know it as “The Star Spangled Banner”.This year the symphony will perform a special concert dedicated to the writing of the poem and celebrating the remembrance of the battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore that gave us the lyrics to our most cherished anthem.

Join us Saturday September 6th at 6pm for the triumphant return of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and their special tribute to Francis Scott Key and the music that America loves to hear at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (or at the Niagara Center if it rains).
Get involved, you can be join the Perry Group for as little as $20 at

Gifts of the Season ( of Whale boats & rowing races)

DGUTSIn September of 1910 the “Interstate Board of The Perry’s Victory Centennial Commissioners” was organized to create a permanent tribute to Commodore Perry and enable a “worthy celebration” of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, and of course do it in grand style. From Milwaukee to Buffalo over a dozen Port cites and ten states planned events and then participated in the Battle of Lake Erie Centennial Celebration.

Here in Put-in-Bay, the Commissioners embarked on an ambitious summer schedule of activities that commenced on July 4th with the laying of the Monument corner stone, and concluded with the a seven course dinner at the Cedar Point Ballroom that featured “sweet breads”, Tutti-Frutti ice cream, cigars and fine brandy.

In the months leading up to the Centennial celebration, not only did the Commissioners get the completion financing they needed from the Federal Government (with the help of the Taft administration) for the building of the monument, but they also located and restored the Brig Niagara that was slowly falling to pieces in its shallow muddy grave in the Presque Isle harbor. These two projects alone would have been quite an accomplishment, but for the Centennial Commissioners 1913 required an exceptional effort suitable for acknowledging a “Century of Peace” with Great Britain and Canada.

So over the summer of 1913, the never-ending celebration commenced. It included a “Centennial Regatta” (under the auspices of the ILYA) that featured sailing and powerboat regattas and an appearance by the yacht “Pricilla”. There were aviation events, swimming competitions and canoe races with trophies and ribbons galore!
But I have to say I was totally unaware of the fact that Put-in-Bay hosted the championship rowing races including the “Commodore Perry Cup” until an alert reader, Paul Polk from Virginia, emailed me. He wrote to ask for help on learning more about the story behind the black and white photograph he has of his grandfather holding a trophy for a rowing championship in his Naval Militia Uniform. He was told that his grand father had been on the team from North Carolina that had come to “Put-in Island” for these rowing championships.

Like manna from heaven, out of the blue, this story was truly a gift for the season. As we continue to build our replica pulling boat used by Perry, light dawned on my “marble head”. The Centennial was THE perfect place for this championship. If there was ever an event that celebrated Perry’s “moment” as he moved from the Lawrence to the Niagara, this was it.
I had to know more. I was able to download a copy of the “Official Souvenir Program of the Perry’s Victory Centennial” from the Library of Congress and there it was, on page 74, event 45 of August 28th 1913, “The Commodore Perry Cup”. The US Naval Militia Championship for the 6 Oar Rowing Competition with “individual trophies for each member of the crew of seven and a ‘Championship Flag’ to the winning whale boat”.
So Paul has emailed me again that he has the trophy and is getting it cleaned up. He is hoping that there might be a chance to come next summer and see the bicentennial re-dux of the “Six oared whaleboat race for the Naval Militia US Championship” also known as the “Commodore Perry Cup”. And so do I. It would be wonderful to invite rowing teams from across the region, heck from across the country to come back to Put-in-Bay. We are well on our way to having a boat to race, now all we need is a race to enter and a crew.
You can help us as we head towards the summer of 2013. This holiday season give the gift of the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial. Contribute to our Perry’s Longboat project, or buy a flare for the 2013 Harbor Illumination ( We need you on our team to win this race.

“199 and counting”

September 10th, 2012

Today as I write this column it is the 199th anniversary of Oliver Hazard Perry’s Victory in the Battle of Lake Erie. This past historic weekend (September 8th and 9th) we celebrated along with the National Park Service, US Navy, US Coast Guard, Boy Scouts of America, the community of Put-in-Bay and all our friends who came from near and far the opening salvo to the 200th anniversary in 2013.

Just a little over one hundred years ago, newspaper man Webster Huntington and engineer John Eisenmann and group of interested citizens began a success campaign to build a monument of national importance to honor Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s incredible accomplishments in the Battle of Lake Erie before the Centennial Year (1913) began. They formed a multi-state commission to raise the funds for building the monument we see today. In 1911 President Howard Taft signed a bill to conditionally fund the monument. Various designs were considered but on July 4th 1913 the cornerstone was laid, not just for a monument, but a truly fitting tribute to Oliver Hazard Perry and the men that collectively changed the course of our history and the enduring peace and friendship we have enjoyed since with Great Britain, Canada and the First Nation.

In June of 1915 the International Peace Memorial was completed and opened to the pubic (thought it did not actually become a National Park Service site until July of 1936), providing a view to the battle site, and a call out for generations to come, reminding us why September 10th 1813 was a turning point in the War of 1812.

So Sunday morning (September 9th) a group of 50 or so people headed out past Rattle Snake Island to the far corner of the western basin of Lake Erie aboard the Coast Guard vessel “Mobile Bay” to the Battle of Lake Erie site to set a permanent mark. At around 11:30 while stationed on the battle site, we witnessed Bicentennial Chairman Dave Zavagno, who was given the privilege by Captain Stone of the USCG vessel “Mobil Bay” to order the buoy release, the beautiful “Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial buoy” set in place. The buoy is now located at the precise coordinates of 41-44-50.00 N by 083-02-00.00 W.

Now Perry’s monument view is connected exactly to the place and time where so many men died for a fledgling country, and where Perry accepted British Commander Barclays’ surrender. And not far from where Perry scribbled the words “we have met the enemy, and they are ours…” A sacred place is now properly marked for the 200th Anniversary.

The Buoy ceremony had capped off a week of activities to denote the advent of the celebration to come in the year ahead that kicked off on Thursday August 30th when over 250 people boarded the Jet-Express 2 in Put-in-Bay and headed to Cleveland’s Navy Week. This year’s Navy Week in Cleveland was especially important since US Navy had designated Cleveland as one of 15 port cities that are part of its’ official observance of the War of 1812.

So on that balmy day in Cleveland, Blue Angles streaking by overheard and the Brig Niagara on hand after a day of sailing, the Friends of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial coordinated a special observance that included a moving “Transfer of Command” from the Brig Niagara to the USS DeWert. Oliver Hazard Perry Cabot, a direct descendant of Commodore Perry was rowed from the Niagara to the docked USS DeWert just across the Port of Cleveland Channel. He presented his “Don’t give up the ship flag” to Rear Admiral Greg Nosal. This connection of the past to the present was a poignant symbol of a amazing progression from Perry’s first ever-fleet victory for the fledgling Us Navy to the modern Navy’s current peacekeeping mission. Despite the difference of vessels and costume, Perry’s motto (DGUTS) still resonates just as strongly today as it did 199 years ago.

Historic weekend’s festive parade, the NPS ceremonies featuring Rear Admiral Joseph Horn Jr., the Toledo Symphony and the evenings quietly moving “Lights of Peace” Harbor Illumination capped off a wonderful 199th anniversary. As we count the days until the 200th anniversary we are thankful for the sacrifices made on our behalf and savor the continued sacred peace we all enjoy here in Ohio.

Illuminating Peace

It is hard to believe that we are closing in on two hundred years of peace with Canada and Great Britain. So we are excited about creating a harbor illumination this summer, something everyone can participate in to celebrate. This is an event that will capture the imagination and memories of islanders and visitors, something that connects us to our history but extends to our personal celebration as well.


Our Battle of Lake Erie bicentennial observance, which begins this summer, is the prelude to that important anniversary. It was on the eve of Christmas in 1814 when we signed the Treaty of Ghent that ended the War of 1812. Perhaps we take it for granted that the two hard fought wars between the United States and Great Britain left us as firmly entwined allies not enemies. That alliance has been important through out the years, not just during wartime but during peaceful times as well.

As a very young child I lived just out side Buffalo, New York. My Uncle and Aunt lived in a small community in Ontario Canada near the north shore of Lake Erie in a community known as Point Abino. During the summers we would often head to their lakeside house to escape the heat of the summer and enjoy the sandy shores of Crystal Beach. It seemed to me that going to Canada was effortless, no passports, border guards or customs officer.

It was way beyond my understanding at the time to realize that the Treaty of Ghent had solidified that open border that we still enjoy today. In fact in Put-in-Bay we welcome our northern friends every summer that come from Port Stanley, Leamington, Amherstburg and beyond to visit our island.
My Aunt and Uncle have long since passed away, but the memories of those wonderful summers in Point Abino still shine brightly in my mind. I want to remember not only my Aunt and Uncle, but also my mother and father who brought me here to Put-in-Bay for many, many wonderful summers after we moved to Columbus.

So this summer in Put-in-Bay we are going to celebrate our good fortune, that feeling of security we enjoy that has come with an open border and enduring peace, by staging an illumination of the inner harbor. This potentially spectacular event will take place at dusk on September 8th after the Toledo Symphony has concluded its performance.

From the edge of the Monument property to Stone Lab and along the shores of Gibraltar we will have flares deployed every 15 feet. At a prescribed time all the flares will be lit providing an illumination of the harbor that will be visible by land, boat and air. The flares will burn for about 20 minutes allowing for great photos, quiet moments and some heart felt remembrances to be shared.

But in order to have this happen we need your help. Perry’s Victory, Stone Lab and the Village of Put-in-Bay have given us permission to stage this event, but we need your thoughtful involvement as well. Buy a flare, maybe two for your lost loved ones, or for your family that enjoys life here in the Bass Islands. They cost just $10 each and you can write a special quote or memory in our online logbook for the event. Plan to invite friends and family to our island for Historic Weekend and celebrate the Bicentennial.

This first year of the illumination we hope to have at least 500 flares lit. Call, write, go online or email us if you’re onboard, $10 a flare for a memory and moments of thankfulness. We need volunteers, supplies and helpful cooperation from all the businesses and homeowners along the waterfront.
Now, when I think back to the events that unfolded during the War of 1812, I am especially thankful for the bold and brave actions of our Navy and Commodore Perry on that fateful day in September of 1813. Their sacrifice is embodied in our enduring peace with Great Britain and Canada today. Come celebrate!

The Perry Group PO Box 484 Put-in-Bay, Ohio 43456, 419-285-2491

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,080 other followers

War of 1812 Final Ceremonies

Perry's Victory Heritage FestivalSeptember 10th, 2015
Today we Celebrate peace with Great Britain and Canada

The latest word

Harbor Illumination 2015

Become a supporter

Make a memory, buy a flare

Blogs Revisted