Baltimore expects 1M visitors at ‘Star-Spangled Sailabration’ for War of 1812 bicentennial

The Washington Post

By Associated Press, Published: June 15

BALTIMORE — More than one million people are expected to participate in a weeklong commemoration of the War of 1812 around Baltimore’s harbor, with the biggest crowds expected this weekend.Dozens of tall ships and naval warships from around the world are open to the public for tours as part of the “Star-Spangled Sailabration,” which runs through Tuesday. The harbor will also be the site of airshows by the Navy’s Blue Angels over the weekend.

The event will be accompanied by arts projects, including a new symphonic work. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will premiere the “Overture for 2012,” composed by Philip Glass, on Sunday evening at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Celtic rock band, “O’Malley’s March,” is expected to perform with the orchestra at the event.

On Monday, representatives of the three countries that engaged in the war, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, will mark the 200th anniversary of the declaration of war at Fort McHenry. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Canadian Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer and British Ambassador to the United States Peter Westmacott will attend the “From Enemies to Allies” ceremony.

The tall ships and naval warships will depart in a “Parade of Sail” on Tuesday morning.

The Navy, which sees the war as central to the development of its culture, and nonprofit Operation Sail organized ship visits around the country this year to kick-off the commemoration of the war, including events in New Orleans; Norfolk, Va.; New York, Boston and Baltimore.

Organizers are raising $25 million to support events and programing and to help tourism sites around the state handle an increase in visitors. The U.S. Mint is selling gold and silver commemorative coins and will match up to $8.5 million of the funds raised.

The events continue beyond this summer with an academic conference on peace in Annapolis in 2013, reenactments at battle sites around the Chesapeake Bay and the return of tall ships to Baltimore’s harbor in September 2014 to mark the anniversary of the battle memorialized in the national anthem.

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