Havre de Grace council hails War of 1812 weekend as a success

The Havre de Grace Council's meeting Monday was filled with heaps of praise for everyone and anyone involved in the last weekend's War of 1812 commemoration.

Both organizers and council members (one of whom, Bill Martin, was also a major organizer) agreed it was a huge success, although the economic impact from the event is still being calculated.

Brigitte Peters, the city's tourism manager, also came out to the meeting to thank and congratulate everyone.

Peters said one of the historic ships, for example, drew a record breaking visitation of more than 4,700 people, and the Sultana had 750 people on board for First Friday.

She noted three people were walking around doing surveys, the results of which will be presented to the city later.

Peters was given an award from Mayor Wayne Dougherty, and Councilman Joe Smith presented her with a plaque and a historic screen print of an American flag from his printing store.

Martin, who regularly promoted the War of 1812 weekend during his time on the dais and around town, said the weekend was also an opportunity to "punch out" other city projects, especially maintenance of Concord Point power lines, landscaping upgrades and dredging the channel that allowed the Pride of Baltimore to come in.

Councilman David Glenn said 40 volunteers had been expected about a week before the event, and council members noted 116 people ultimately came out to help.

"It was a packed house," Glenn said. "You couldn't get another person in that room."

Council President Randy Craig said the city's regular staff was nearly doubled by the number of volunteers, all of whom were "smiling" and more than eager to do their part.

Glenn said the re-enactors said they travel all over the state and "nobody has anything on Havre de Grace."

Glenn also thanked Martin for his leadership.

"Saturday night, when you gave that speech, everybody's mouth dropped. You left everyone speechless," Glenn told his colleague. "I have always said that Havre de Grace is Maryland's best-kept secret. I can no longer say that after this weekend. I think the secret's out."

Business owners also reported high numbers of customers and thanked the city for the event.

One of them, Councilwoman Barbara Wagner, said she had more people come through her store, Bahoukas Antique Mall, on Saturday than she ever had.

She said the event also made her proud of her city.

"As I was going home, all I could think of was, 'I live in a Norman Rockwell painting,'" she added.

Lori Maslin, a business owner who puts on the annual Seafood Festival, said she knows what it is like to put on a major event but her event happens every year, so she has a chance to build on it.

"The beauty of this event is that Brigitte Peters and Bill Martin and the city itself took something brand-new, something that has never been done before and will probably never be done again, and hit it out of the ballpark," she said.

"We talked to no less than five or six other business owners, talking about they had more people and more business in their stores, they had their best day ever, because of this event," Maslin said.

She also said this event could be a jumping-off point for bringing more people to Havre de Grace.

"If it were up to me, we would have something every weekend in Havre de Grace," Maslin said, addressing other business owners like Smith. "It is hard in this town, particularly in the winter. Been there, done that. I had a storefront for 10 years."

"The more people we bring, the more people see our town, with its red-white-and-blue, with its fancy feathers going, the more they want to come back, the more they want to spend," Maslin added.

Martin said the event was a new step for Havre de Grace.

"I think what we did this time was we pushed the envelope," he said. "We showed people what we could do down at a different park and how we can make it big."


The council also held hearings Monday on its proposed ordinances to set the water and sewer rates through 2015, fix the tax rate and extend the deferred payment stimulus program to pay for capital cost recovery charges.

The real property tax rate would be reduced to 56 cents per $100 of assessed value and continue the personal property tax credit of $500 to encourage local businesses.

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