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Battle of Plattsburgh organizers outline plans for this year’s commemoration

Macdonough Monument in Plattsburgh
Pat Bradley
Macdonough Monument in Plattsburgh

Organizers are preparing for one of Plattsburgh’s largest annual events. The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration will be held this year from September 8th to the 11th.

The Battle of Plattsburgh on September 11, 1814 prevented British forces from invading the new U.S. states. Theodore Roosevelt characterized the fighting on Plattsburgh Bay the “greatest naval battle” of the War of 1812.

Every year the city of Plattsburgh commemorates the battle with a number of activities including reenactments, a parade and fireworks.

1814 Commemoration Inc. President Tom Donahue says the commemoration will begin Thursday evening September 8th with a memorial service for British and American soldiers buried at the Riverside Cemetery before the majority of events begin.

“We really kick things off on Friday afternoon. Everything will be downtown. Music, entertainment leading up to our welcoming ceremonies. We’ll be welcoming the Honor Flight and all veterans leading up to a concert by Adirondack Jazz Orchestra, an outside concert. And topping off that night is our famous Rocket’s Red Glare fireworks display. So that’s the kickoff on Friday night. Saturday and Sunday are jam-packed this year. Something we haven’t had in the last couple years is all the reenactors. Because of COVID they couldn’t come across the border. We have a lot of reenactors coming this year. There’ll be the Grand Encampment and they’ll also be doing demonstrations throughout the weekend.”

One of the new events planned this year occurs at the Thomas Macdonough Monument, which towers 135 feet across the street from City Hall. Donahue notes that it will be open during this year’s commemoration with a special challenge for its visitors.

“This year we’re going to have what we’re calling the 156 Club. There’s 156 stairs going up and 156 stairs coming down. Everyone that goes up and comes down is going to be a member of the 156 Club. They’re going to get a button that says ‘I survived the climb’ and we’ll put them in the drawing for a gift certificate at the end of the event.”

Organizers held a contest asking fifth-graders in Clinton and Franklin counties to design a poster depicting the battle. Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest says it’s an exciting way to involve the region’s youth.

“Not only from the community engagement side of getting kids involved but also handing off some history and educating not only the adults in the room but also our kids about the rich history that we have in the region.”

Donahue reflected on the historical significance of the Battle of Plattsburgh.

“I don’t think our country would be here if what had happened back in 1814 hadn’t happened. It’s so important. There’s so much history sitting right here in Plattsburgh. This whole country can be brought back to what happened here in Plattsburgh in 1814. You know our country is in kind of turmoil right now and you can see how back then how easily it would have been for our country not to exist. So this is a very important event.”

The parade is scheduled for that Saturday and reenactments will occur on Saturday and Sunday.

Corrected: August 25, 2022 at 11:11 AM EDT
The word "colonies" changed to "states" in the report.
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