New quarter honors Fort McHenry

The Fort McHenry quarter//photo supplied by the U.S. Mint (Burwell Photography for the Unit / Baltimore Sun / December 11, 2012)

A new quarter depicting fireworks over Fort McHenry was officially launched during a ceremony Friday at the Baltimore landmark as part of Defenders' Day celebrations.

The Fort McHenry quarter is part of a series being issued by the United States Mint that focuses on national parks and other federal sites. The America the Beautiful Quarters program, launched in 2010, will release 56 quarters by 2021.

Quarters are being released in the order that chosen sites became national landmarks. Fort McHenry, which became a national site in March 1925, is the 19th quarter in the series. The Mint made 271.4 million quarters that began to be circulated on Aug. 26, said Mint spokesman Mike White.

Coin aficionados can find the quarters in circulation or buy them online in sets at usmint.gov. The quarters will also be available for sale at the fort in $10 rolls.

U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios and Maryland politicians, including Sen. Ben Cardin and Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes, were on hand for the Friday ceremony, which coincides with the weekend celebration of Defenders' Day.

Defenders' Day celebrates the successful defense of Baltimore against the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814. The engagement inspired the Francis Scott Key poem that became our national anthem.

"The quarter was great," said Kristin Schenning, director of education at the Maryland Historical Society, who attended the event. "It has all come together in a wonderful kind of way."

Schenning oversaw a project that created a replica of the Star-Spangled Banner flag, which will be raised over the fort during a free ceremony from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday.

A fireworks display will begin at dusk Saturday.

Also this weekend, the fort will be home to a living-history encampment from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The encampment will feature cooking demonstrations, military drills, musket and cannon firings, and a dress parade.

Fort McHenry boat tours will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.