Record crowds expected for 60th anniversary events at Bastogne
Organizers of the Bastogne observance are expecting record crowds for the 2004 event, the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.
Among the planned events is the annual Bastogne Perimeter Pilgrimage, a walk around the battlefield’s boundary, on Dec. 18. Last year 1,400 walkers participated, many of whom registered the day of the walk, according to a news release.
Those planning to join in this year’s walk are asked to register by e-mail by November, according to the release.
“This year we’ve ordered more certificates and we hope we have enough,” Tom Larscheid, who assists in coordinating American participation, said in the release. “If you register and pay before Nov. 21, we’ll be able to personalize your certificate with your name printed on it.”
Organizers are offering a choice of three self-paced routes — six kilometers, 12 kilometers or 20 kilometers.
The walk begins at 8 a.m. on the town square, but participants may begin as late as 9:30 a.m. and still return to Bastogne in time for the afternoon ceremonies, according to the release.
Late registration is at the L’Europa tavern on the town square from 7-9:30 a.m. on Dec. 18.
The walk will cover an area southwest of Bastogne, passing through the village of Assenois where tanks of Patton’s 4th Armored Division broke the siege of the city on Dec. 26, 1944.
Maurice Sperandieu, a 78-year-old veteran of the battle, is scheduled to lead the walk, now in its 27th year. Sperandieu, who joined the Belgian army shortly after the country was liberated in September 1944, was attached to a military police battalion of U.S. Lt. Gen. George Patton’s Third Army.
Registration is 3.50 euros per walker. No foreign currency will be accepted. The fee includes walker’s insurance, a certificate of participation and a small souvenir.
For preregistration, Americans stationed in Germany and Italy may contact Ed Laptosky at email@example.com and Americans in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Britain may contact Larscheid at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a small fee, a limited number of billets are available for active-duty personnel on a first-come basis.
“Wear good waterproof walking boots and clothing and bring an umbrella,” Larscheid advised in the release. “The weather in the Ardennes can change quickly from rain and wind to sleet and snow.”
Additional details on the walk are at: http://users.skynet.be/bastogne_december_historic_walk/.
Check www.bastogne.be for a listing of special 60th anniversary events and displays running throughout the year in Bastogne.