North Country gears up for annual Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 4:50 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - We are just about a month away from one of the Lake City’s biggest events of the year. The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration honors the battle and reminds residents of the importance of the historical event.

There will be some fresh takes on old traditions this year and while there will be plenty of fun to be had, organizers say the commemoration is to remember the nation’s history that started in our own backyard.

“It’s an opportunity to actually see what life was like back in 1814,” said Tom Donahue of 1814 Commemoration Inc.

Traveling back to 1814, British soldiers were trying to invade the Champlain Valley but a naval victory by American forces led to the end of the War of 1812.

“I don’t think our country would be here if what had happened in back in 1814 hadn’t happened. It was right here in Plattsburgh, New York, and yet you meet people on the street and they don’t know anything about it. They don’t teach it in our schools anymore,” Donahue said.

That’s why they say this event is so important.

To help visualize the moment in history, reenactments will take place all weekend, something that was missing from the commemoration for the last two years as many reenactors need to cross the border for the event.

“It’s been frustrating,” Donahue said.

There will be plenty of things to do over the four days, like learn about time period games.

“You can immerse yourself in the games and this is how people learned to work together and play together. Every year we do it. It’s totally hands-on and it’s lots of fun,” said Chris Ransom of 1814 Commemoration Inc.

Plus there will be fireworks, food vendors, a beer garden, live music, a ball and the largest parade in the region. And new this year-- a chance to join the 156 club! The MacDonough Monument will be open and those who climb the 156 steps up and back will get a pin.

Wednesday morning, the organization announced the winner of the button design contest. Designs were submitted by fifth-graders in Essex and Clinton counties.

Leah Rini took runner-up. She had to design the button around life in 1814.

“The plucky rooster, it’s a story that it flew over the ship and it was good luck,” Rini said.

The first button was sold to the mayor and all the proceeds go back into the organization for next year, which costs around $50,000.

“History is free, it’s out there for us to see, but preserving it like we do and like museums do isn’t free,” Donahue said.

You can pick up those buttons at 14 locations around town starting Thursday.

There is a full schedule of events over the four days and they said they are still looking for volunteers.

The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration starts Sept. 8. Click here for all the details.

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