Havre de Grace planning for big War of 1812 weekend in May

The City of Havre de Grace continues to plan for its big War of 1812 weekend in May, potentially one of the biggest public celebrations the city has ever staged.

City risk manager Patrick Sypolt gave more detail on the plans to members of the Mayor and City Council at their meeting Monday night, noting the weekend will include an ongoing re-enactment of the British fight with the Americans on Saturday, May 4, commemorating the sacking and burning of the city by the invaders in 1813. That will coincide with the city's annual decoy festival.

The event would launch with a march from the Concord Point lighthouse to the Lockhouse Museum that morning, with five skirmishes along the way, one of which will involve the capture of hometown hero John O'Neill, Sypolt said.

During an afternoon break, drills will be performed for spectators by the lockhouse.

The group will then meet at Lafayette Square and march to Rochambeau Plaza and unfurl a banner, just before breaking for dinner at 4 p.m.

A dinner and ball will also be held for the public at the Havre de Grace High School gym.

At 6:30 p.m. that evening, several regional honor guards will present a flag at a new flagpole at Concord Point Lighthouse while at 7 p.m., Gov. Martin O'Malley, Harford County Executive David Craig and Mayor Wayne Dougherty are scheduled to speak there.

The Columbia Orchestra will then play patriotic songs that end with the "1812 Overture" by Tchaikovsky

The night will be capped by fireworks, Sypolt said, and tall ships will also be stationed in Havre de Grace for the event. Several other events will happen the next day, such as a 5K Redcoat Run and a kayak poker run.

On Sunday that weekend, St. John's Episcopal Church will also have sermons the church recovered from that era, as well as period costumes.

The War of 1812 weekend will be celebrated simultaneously with the 32nd annual Havre de Grace Decoy and Waterfowl Art Festival that runs Friday through Sunday.

"It really is going to be quite a commemorative weekend, where we can all be proud of our past, where we are and where we are going," Sypolt told the council.

Shyla Glassman, executive assistant for the city, said the police cost for the weekend could be about $8,000 and public works costs will be about $1,900, although those are still being calculated.

Sypolt also noted the city has received an $87,000 grant to cover the festivities.

City Councilwoman Barbara Wagner asked about plans for parking, and Sypolt replied the Maryland Army National Guard will provide a shuttle service from parking facilities around town.

Council President Randy Craig reminded everyone that "the finer details" are still being developed and people should make suggestions to the leaders planning the weekend events.

Councilman Joe Smith said a lot of work has gone into the event.

"It has really been a community effort," he said. "We are all excited about this. It's going to bring a lot of people to town."

Dougherty added that Havre de Grace Main Street Inc. "over the years has developed a very positive relationship with this city, a positive relationship that lets us go forward."

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