Ships To Sail In For Ohio's Bicentennial

By LAURA JOHNSTON, Associated Press Writer

LORAIN, Ohio (AP) - The U.S. Brig Niagara was one of eight ships that defeated the British in the Battle of Lake Erie, a pivotal event in the War of 1812.

Next summer, the Niagara -- or at least its replica -- will be back as part of Ohio's 200th birthday celebration.

Visitors will be able to tour the Niagara during the Ohio Bicentennial Tall Ships Festival, which will bring 15 to 18 tall ships to 11 ports along Lake Erie from July 9 to 20.

The festival expands on last year's Cleveland Harborfest, which brought 15 tall ships to Cleveland. This time, the ships will visit lakeshore cities across northern Ohio, including Sandusky, Vermilion, Lorain, Mentor and Ashtabula.

Ohio Bicentennial Commission spokesman Fred Stratmann said the event will help those communities celebrate both the bicentennial and their maritime heritage.

The Niagara and the Red Witch -- two tall ships that already have committed to the celebration -- were docked at Lorain, 30 miles west of Cleveland, on Wednesday for the announcement of the festival.

Each ship is a replica of an original sailing vessel from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Toledo and Cleveland will host the festival's two major events -- the Cleveland Harborfest from July 9 to 13th and Tall Ships Toledo from July 16 to 20. Each event will feature a "Parade of Sail," during which each ship will sail into the harbor, as well as land-based activities.

The other nine ports will host one to three boats each for a day or two.

The festival is one of five bicentennial signature events the commission hopes will draw visitors from surrounding states.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)