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Event planned to celebrate Battle of Lake Erie

Officials from the Erie Maritime Museum and the Flagship Niagara League will commemorate the Battle of Lake Erie's 199th anniversary Monday with a 5:30 p.m. ceremony at Presque Isle State Park's Perry Monument.

The ceremony is free and open to the public.

"We'll be there to honor the veterans on both sides who gave their lives," said Linda Bolla, the Erie Maritime Museum's education-programs coordinator.

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"One of our most important functions as a museum is to remember their sacrifices," she said. "While we commemorate the sacrifices, we also celebrate almost 200 years of peace that came out of the War of 1812."

Today's memorial service will include remarks by Allan Belovarac, a Battle of Lake Erie scholar and Mercyhurst University history professor.

Officials also will place a wreath in Misery Bay and present a cannon salute.

If there is inclement weather, the ceremony will be held on Niagara Plaza behind the Erie Maritime Museum, 150 E. Front St.

A year from now, Erie will be wrapping up the zenith of events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, which was fought between U.S. and British naval forces on Sept. 10, 1813, near Put-in Bay, Ohio.

The U.S. victory helped cement Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's legacy in Erie history and Navy lore.

The centerpiece of bicentennial activities is the Flagship Niagara League's four-day Tall Ships Erie festival from Sept. 5 to Sept. 8, 2013. Eight to 10 ships, including the U.S. Brig Niagara, are expected to attend the event.

A Parade of Sail in Presque Isle Bay involving all participating ships will highlight the festival's opening day.

Most of the ships will dock outside the Bayfront Convention Center, with one or two ships docking at the Maritime Museum.

"All of our efforts are going into that celebration," Bolla said. "The level of excitement will be like nothing we've seen before. I know how well people enjoyed being on the waterfront for Tall Ships 2010."

About 30,000 people attended Erie's Tall Ships festival, which featured six ships, in 2010.

Organizers of the 2013 festival have said they hope to double attendance. The festival will include public and school tours, crafts and music.

During the 2013 Tall Ships Erie festival, the Maritime Museum's Ship's Company 1813 Living History interpreters will present demonstrations of sailhandling and naval gun drills on the museum's gun deck.

Many other activities in 2013 will precede the Tall Ships Erie festival.

Bolla said the Maritime Museum will unveil an "Erie Celebrates" exhibit in February or March, showcasing artifacts from Erie's centennial and sesquicentennial celebrations.

The Perry 200 Commemoration, a two-year celebration of the bicentennial celebrating the War of 1812 and Erie's role in the Battle of Lake Erie, attracted about 125,000 people to its lectures, concerts and other events this year.

Perry 200 Commemoration event highlights in 2013 include a Memorial Day parade, a community pageant, July 4 fireworks and a cardboard regatta competition during the CelebrateErie festival.

A U.S. Navy traveling exhibit, "War of 1812: A Nation Forged by War," is currently on display at the Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 135 E. 38th St., Bolla said.

The Maritime Museum received two exhibit sets, one of which will be displayed at various area venues through 2013 and another that will be displayed at the Maritime Museum starting in November.

"A lot of people are getting enthusiastic about the bicentennial," Bolla said. "We're excited."

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