“It was a home run for the area,” Fletcher said. “It will never be repeated.”
Fletcher hit on a number of facts as he reported on his findings during Wednesday’s Ohio Lake Erie Commission meeting at the CanalWay Center in Cuyahoga Heights.
• More than 100,000 people visited U.S. ports during the weekend events.
• On Sept. 1, Miller Boat Line set a new record for passengers.
• All island marinas and many mainland marinas were sold out.
• Hotel bookings were very heavy on the islands and in Port Clinton.
• A long list of top media outlets covered the event, including the New York Times, CNN, NPR, the Washington Post and more, providing valuable publicity for the region.
• Put-in-Bay reported selling 7,500 tour tickets.
• There were 8,000 to 10,000 spectators aboard 2,000 boats watching the battle re-enactment, while another 1,450 paid to participate in the re-enactment.
• Port Clinton drew 30,000 visitors, while 3,000 people paid to visit the two tall ships docked there. Many businesses reported record sales.
• Kelleys Island reported selling 360 sail-away tickets for tall ship trips.
• Despite a summer season shorted by sequestration federal budget cuts, visits to the Perry Memorial were up 40 percent over last summer.
While the 200th anniversary of the big battle has come and gone, the event shows that tall ships are attractive and will draw crowds when the ships return, Fletcher said.
Lake Erie Commission executive director Gail Hesse, who paid to participate in the re-enactment, told the commission that some visitors drove a long way to attend the events. “One of the men on the ship had flown up from Texas to participate,” Hesse said.
While re-enactments of land battles are common, it’s generally difficult for history buffs to find naval reenactments, she said.
While the battle re-enactment is in the past, War of 1812 events will continue in the region. The Perry Monument should also continue to draw people interested in history, Fletcher said.
• WHAT: Half-hour documentary featuring footage of the Battle of Lake Erie reenactment.
• WHERE: 8 p.m. Oct. 3 on WGTE, a Toledo PBS station
• WHEN: After the documentary airs, it will be streamed at WGTE.org.