It's a star-spangled weekend downtown for flag and patriot

Ft. McHenry, harbor among salute sites for 2 holidays

Family: Events, Activities

September 09, 2004|By Lori Sears | Lori Sears,SUN STAFF

Honor the country and its brave heroes at several patriotic events during the "Star-Spangled Banner Weekend," taking place tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday downtown.

In tribute to Defenders' Day and Patriot Day, several events will be held at Fort McHenry, the Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum and the Harborplace Amphitheatre.

Tomorrow, beginning at 5 p.m. at the Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum, a Mary Pickersgill re-enactor will present a folded 30-foot-by-42-foot replica of the Star-Spangled Banner to War of 1812 re-enactors, who will embark on a "Follow the Flag to the Fort" parade through the streets of Baltimore.

FOR THE RECORD - Because of incomplete information from Fort McHenry, a photograph of Defenders' Day re-enactors on the Family page of yesterday's LIVE was misattributed. It should have been credited to Bill Lear / The Baltimore Guide. The Sun regrets the error.

The parade will travel from Albemarle Street through Little Italy, to Pratt Street and the Inner Harbor. The parade will stop at the Harborplace Amphitheatre at 6 p.m., where a ceremony will feature period music, re-enactors and a brief talk by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Afterward, re-enactment troops will board the Pride of Baltimore II, and the ship will lead a flotilla of historic vessels to Locust Point. The Pride will then be docked at the Fort McHenry taxi boat pier.

Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m., Defenders' Day celebrations are scheduled at Fort McHenry. Visitors can enjoy family activities, hear fife and drum music and watch military encampments with drills, musket and cannon firings and a raising of the large 30-foot-by-42-foot flag.

"It's the highlight of the year at Fort McHenry," park ranger Vincent Vaise says of Defenders' Day. "It's the biggest event we have and the oldest holiday in Baltimore City. It's been celebrated in Baltimore since 1814."

The holiday commemorates the defense of Baltimore during the War of 1812 and the subsequent writing of the national anthem by Francis Scott Key. The patriotic holiday was made an official state holiday in 1908.

At Fort McHenry, visitors can watch a dress parade, see cooking demonstrations and hear book talks by children's author Amy Winstead (The Star-Spangled Banner) and author Anthony Pitch (The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814). And everyone is invited to climb aboard the Pride of Baltimore II for tours.

Also Saturday, from noon to 6 p.m. at the Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum, visitors of all ages can celebrate Defenders' Day by making patriotic crafts, playing games, hearing live music and meeting living history characters Mary Pickersgill and Francis Scott Key. Tours of the museum and Flag House will also be offered. Food will be available.

On Saturday evening at Fort McHenry, a program with city officials and state dignitaries will begin at 6 p.m. There will be a service and concert by the U.S. Army Field Band in honor of Patriot Day, for the victims of 9/11. Mayor Martin O'Malley, dressed as a colonel of the Baltimore militia in full officer regalia with saber, will offer a short speech.

The evening program also features a musket-firing demonstration, a symbolic ship-to-shore bombardment, a singing of the national anthem and a fireworks display.

Visitors to the evening program are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket, as there is no seating. Coolers are fine, although baggage will be inspected.

Events begin at 5 p.m. tomorrow at the Flag House and travel to the Harborplace Amphitheatre, Inner Harbor. Free. Events continue Saturday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, East Fort Avenue. Admission from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday is $5 for ages 17 and up; free for ages under 17. Admission after 6 p.m. Saturday is free. Events Sunday at Fort McHenry run 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission $5; free for ages under 17. Call 410-962-4290. Events Saturday at the Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum, 844 E. Pratt St., run noon-6 p.m. $6; $5 students, seniors and military; $4 children. Call 410-837-1793.

For more family events, see Page 40.

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