OSWEGO, NY – When Governor David Paterson ordered the closure of Fort Ontario State Historic Site, nine-year-old Christopher Colasurdo of Oswego answered the call to action.
Chris, a fourth grader at Fitzhugh Park School, has raised more than $1,000 to support the fort through a â€œhat dayâ€ fundraiser that he organized in the Oswego City School District.
Students, faculty and staff each paid 25 cents or more to wear their favorite hats to school, with all the proceeds going to the â€œSave the Fortâ€ effort.
Fitzhugh Park, Kingsford Park, Leighton and Riley elementary schools and Oswego High School joined in the campaign.
Chris and his mother, Deborah, recently presented a check to the Friends of Fort Ontario, a not-for-profit group that supports the fort through improvements and educational events.
â€œOn behalf of the Friends of Fort Ontario, we are very grateful to Chris and his family for their excellent service to our community. We are honored to accept their donation, and we very much appreciate their efforts to preserve the fort,â€ said board president Charles Harrington.
Chris is a passionate student of history and is frequently seen wearing his British 24th Regiment of Foot uniform at commemoration events at Fort Ontario.
On â€œhat day,â€ he selected the black pointed cap of the regiment.
â€œThe fort is a national treasure and is worth the fight and battle to keep it open, no matter how long it takes,â€ said his mother, Debbie.
She noted that there are 77 graves in the post cemetery, including many unknown soldiers who died at the site.
As part of his campaign, the Colasurdo family printed stationery with a photograph of Chris in uniform.
Chris sent letters to the Governor and members of the New York State Assembly and Senate, urging them to keep the fort open.
â€œChris received a very inspirational letter from the Governor in reply to his letters. He also received two letters from members of the Assembly,â€ his mother said.
Although the state historic site is now open for the summer season, some of the buildings are closed and many of the collections have been placed in storage.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation ordered the heat turned off in the two officersâ€™ quarters buildings last winter, and it is expected that the items will remain in storage until a new heating system is functioning and interior renovation work such as painting and plaster repairs are completed.
Chris, who aspires to one day be site director of the fort, continues to support the cause.
He will celebrate his 10th birthday and the fortâ€™s re-opening at an open party in the west artillery casemate from 2 to 4:30 p.m. June 27.
Pizza, cake and soda will be served.
Music will be provided by the Domicolo/Barlow Band.
The public is invited to attend.
In lieu of gifts, guests are encouraged to make donations payable to the Friends of Fort Ontario.
For more information, visit www.fortontario.com