What have I been up to this September on the Adirondack Coast……. The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration.

I’ve taken some time away from the keyboard over the last few weeks, but I certainly haven’t stopped moving. What did I do this September on The Adirondack Coast? I hiked, Kayaked, camped, and visited The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration ceremony .

Although I wasn’t here at the time, I can only picture that on 11, September 1814, all of the people in Plattsburgh joined together in merriment over the news of the United States victory in the Battle that ended the final invasion of the northern states during the War of 1812. Every year the City of Plattsburgh comes alive with activity in memory of that day.The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration weekend is not only for the history buffs out there. There are activities all over the City and neighboring towns that cater to all kinds of folk. history buff or not, you’ll always find something at the Battle of Plattsburgh commemoration that is just right for you.

This year I was all “gung-ho” to get out there and visit all the sights I possibly could. I had my schedule of events and Battle of Plattsburgh button ready to go. There is always so much on the five-page list that no one person could possibly do it all. I knew I wasn’t going to be available the entire weekend so I employed the help of a friend to assist me in nabbing some photos from the reenactments. This year I was definitely going to see at least one band play the steps of City Hall, visit Israel green tavern to try the Plucky Rooster Ale, take the long flight of stairs that twists up the center of the MacDonough Monument, and of course eat! The celebration activities were well on their way by the time I was able to make it down to Trinity park. There was a band playing on the steps of City Hall, The smells from the food vendors carts were hanging thick in the air, and all of the open-air seating at the restaurants were filled. A friend and I were excited to take a trip up the twisting staircase to the top of the MacDonough Monument. I have lived here for quite some time now and know that the monument opens only once per year for visitors to take the trek. The sun was setting fast as we approached the open door. We were greeted by the monuments caretaker as he worked to close up for the night. We were too late. “We’ll be open again at 10:am” he says. My friend and I looked at each other and agreed….. 9:50 am we’d be back!

Feeling bummed, we only had one solution. Plucky Rooster Ale was just the ticket! We made our way to Trinity Church and Israel Green’s Tavern. All of the servers were dressed in period clothing, long tables were set up and menus adorned the walls listing all of the Tavern fare, but my eyes were solidly focused on the Plucky Rooster Ale.  Plucky Rooster Ale isn’t your typical ale. There’s a story behind this unique beverage. If there is a story behind an ale,  it may be best to know the story before one imbibes. If you’re in the company of one that does not know the story of Plucky Rooster or the craft of brewing the Ale which bares his name, this story will also give you a little something to talk about. Plucky Rooster Ale doesn’t go into hiding when the Battle of Plattsburgh celebrations come to an end. You can always find Plucky at Legends Brew Pub in the Town of Plattsburgh all year round. Take a look at the Plucky Rooster Ale and the story behind Plucky himself.  http://goadirondack.com/data/files/PRA_Fact%20Sheet(1).pdf

We enjoyed the Plucky Rooster ale while listening to the live band, and talking with one of the reenactors. It seemed in no time flat it was time to carry on to the steps of City Hall to catch one of the bands before resting on the grass under the MacDonough Monument for the Firework display. The crowd behind us began to sing the National Anthem a capella along with the Navy band. At the drop of the song, the first fireworks shot into the sky. It was, for lack of better word, perfect. The perfect way to end the day. The crowds quickly picked up after the fireworks, the lights on the walls of city hall were dimmed, and the reenactors were replaced by the nighttime clean up crew. It was time to settle in and relax. We had a date with the MacDonough monument at 9:50 and couldn’t be late!

9:45 AM. The vendors are just setting up. The smell I remembered from the night before had gone for the time, but surely not for long. There was already a flurry of activity coming from reenactors and volunteers setting up for the days events. Of course I paid attention to the activity around me, but I had a date with a staircase and wanted to be the first in line. I had heard it was a tight fit and didn’t want to be squeezed in like toothpaste. 9:50 am. We made it to the door of the monument, open. The caretaker was setting up his station where he keeps a number of clothespins and a television set. The clothespins are to keep count of the number of people inside the monument at one time, and the television is a live camera feed to track activity inside. As we waited, a bagpipe troupe entertained us from the street in front of the monument.

It turns out that we were not exactly first in line, but we did get to take the trip up without crowding in. Know this, the stairs are steep with many landings. The landings are small standing room only spaces. Every second landing has some reading material depicting photos of those who fought in the battle. The stairs climb about 150 feet to a very small space (also standing room only) with four screened windows to look out over Cumberland Bay, South City, North City, and to the west toward the town. The screened windows are small lookouts suitable for one (maybe two if you don’t mind closeness). It’s a quick trip up and down, but it’s worth it to say I’ve done it.

The steep winding stairs of the MacDonough Monument

With bagpipes still sounding off at City Hall, I had to call an early end to my time at the Battle of Plattsburgh celebration. The crowds were beginning to fill in again and the food vendors were teasing us with the first hint of fried dough and pulled pork. I had to get packed up for my last camping trip of the season on the Lower Saranac Lake.

I missed many of the events I wanted to take part in. Fortunately for me, The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration takes place each year. I’ve already highlighted the events I plan to be a part of for 2013.

The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration takes place each year on or near September 11th to mark the date of the United States victory. This year marks the bicentennial of the Battle. The War of 1812 was fought from 1812 until the final battle took place in Plattsburgh and on Lake Champlain on September 11, 1814. Over the course of the next three years, The Battle of Plattsburgh Association will be hosting events between Commemoration ceremonies. The Battle of Plattsburgh Association website is updated regularly with upcoming events. I definitely have my eye on one of their Reenactors Bootcamps for 2013.

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