Ports along Lake Erie in northern Ohio, Michigan and Canada are hoping to be selected as hosts for tall ships traveling to the lake in 2013 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the U.S. victory over the British in the Battle of Lake Erie.
At least 10 ports already have applied to host the sailing vessels during the two-week bicentennial celebration beginning Labor Day weekend in 2013.
The event is expected to draw thousands of people to Lake Erie, said DavidZavagno, chairman of the bicentennial committee for the volunteer, nonprofit Perry Group, which is organizing the event.
The celebration will commemorate the Sept. 10,1813, battle in which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry led more than 500 sailors to a victory over the British Royal Navy.
That victory secured U.S. control of the Great Lakes in the War of 1812 and helped establish the current border with Canada.
''If the outcome had been different, it would have significantly altered the geography of the United States and western expansion,'' Zavagno said. ''This celebration is an opportunity to share that history with children and adults and remember the courageous sailors who fought in the battle.''
The committee hopes at least 15 tall ships will participate in the battle re-enactment near South Bass Island on Sept. 2, 2013.
The ships will stay at host ports prior to the re-enactment. And organizers have visited potential places to assess water depth and docking capabilities. They will announce their selections this spring after determining which ships will participate.
The ports, which hope to benefit economically from the expected tourism, will have to pay fees required by the ship or ships they host. Charges by the independently-owned vessels can range from roughly $10,000 to $40,000, depending on the ship, Zavagno said. Host ports also must hold a festival featuring tours of the ships and other activities.
Lorain Port Authority director Rick Novak said he's hopeful its application will be accepted. Tall ships have previously docked there.
And Novak said he believes private donors and local foundations would help provide funding.
''This is a unique opportunity to highlight the historical aspects of Lake Erie, and people from all over love to see the tall ships,'' Novak said.
Mayor Debbie Hymore-Tester of Port Clinton is also optimistic. The city probably would have to rely on private donations, but a tentative sponsor is already lined up to help if Port Clinton is chosen, she said.
A private yacht and country club also applying hopes to make it an event for all of Catawba Township.
''We think people need to know about the battle that helped create this country,'' said Mike Schenk, general manager of the Catawba Island Club.
Planning isn't complete, but the celebration will begin Aug. 30, 2013, with the tall ships sailing in a parade around Lake Erie's western basin before heading to their host ports.
The U.S., British and Canadian navies and representatives of their governments -- including the U.S. president and Queen Elizabeth II -- will be invited to participate in the celebration. The commemoration will conclude Sept. 10 with a wreath-laying ceremony at the battle site.