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Battle Of Plattsburgh Organizers Announce Full Schedule Of Events This Year

Battle of Plattsburgh reenacts part of lake conflict during bicentennial commemoration
WAMC/Pat Bradley
Battle of Plattsburgh reenacts part of lake conflict during bicentennial commemoration

The Battle of Plattsburgh is considered by some military historians as a pivotal battle in the War of 1812. The defeat of British forces on Lake Champlain and subsequent retreat by their ground forces on September 11, 1814 was a key factor in finalizing the Treaty of Ghent to end the war. Plattsburgh annually commemorates the battle and after the pandemic forced a scaled-down event in 2020, organizers are planning a more typical four-day event.

The Battle of Plattsburgh typically features a military-themed parade, battle reenactments and encampments.  Memorials are held at local cemeteries that hold the remains of both U.S. and British soldiers that fought in the battles 207 years ago. Last year organizers held mostly virtual events and a few in-person memorials. 1814 Commemoration Inc. coordinates the annual event. President Tom Donahue on Wednesday said the annual Battle of Plattsburgh will return to its traditional form. 

“It’s going to be September 9th through the 12th," Donahue said. "It’s a four-day event of living history including old fashioned parades with marching bands, reenactors and demonstrations, concerts, history talks, local museums, kids games, children’s old time village, ceremonies, fireworks, a 5K run, good food and good fun for everyone.  The theme of this year’s event is ‘Communities Emerging Through History’. And if we look way back to 1814 right after the war the townspeople gathered to celebrate the victory over the British forces. And today we invite all the people in the towns and villages in the North Country and beyond to join us as we celebrate our victory over the extreme challenges of the past year.”

Public Relations Committee Chair Lana Putnam described a kickoff event focused on children and families that will mingle the past with the present. 

“We want to honor our heroes from the 1814 and from this year’s fight over COVID," Putnam said. "So we’re also have nurses, EMT’s and some doctors there and possibly giving out some shots that evening if they want.”

This year Donahue says they are inviting 38 surrounding towns and communities to join the parade.  

“Back in 1814 during the war you know the battle was fought here in Plattsburgh but it was young men from communities all over the North Country, farmers, citizen militias that actually came and fought in that battle," Donahue explained. "So this year’s event is to have the Battle of Plattsburgh event as part of the whole North Country and not just the city of Plattsburgh.”

Donahue noted that this will be the 23rd commemoration in recent history. An annual poster contest for elementary students was not conducted last year but returns this year.  Board member Linda Ward said one of their goals is to have the students interact with the community through art. More than 100 entries were received from school children in Clinton and Essex counties and the top four artists were announced.

“The poster is made into a button and that button serves as a souvenir that is sold throughout the community as either a souvenir or as entry to the very, very few different activities that require a small fee," said Ward.

Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest promised that he and Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman, both Democrats, will attend events in period gear. 

“I do promise to have a costume this year and I also invite Supervisor Cashman to also have a costume," said Rosenquest. 

“I have a costume," answered Cashman faintly.

“He has one. I will have one," Rosenquest replied. "We will both have one. OK there we go. Make it real.”

Organizers said Battle of Plattsburgh events cost about $50,000 and they are seeking more sponsors this year.

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