OSWEGO – May 3 marks the third annual I Love My Park Day at Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego.
I Love My Park Day is a statewide event to improve and enhance New York’s state parks and historic sites, bringing visibility to the entire state park system and its needs.
Fort Ontario had one of the highest turnouts across the state last year with at least 80 volunteers attending on I Love My Park Day to help ready the fort for the 2013 season.
Coordinators are looking forward to doubling that number in 2014.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with work to start by 9 a.m.
There will be assignments available for all ages and abilities.
General projects scheduled for I Love My Park Day Day include:
• Readying buildings for the 2014 season – sweeping, dusting, mopping and returning exhibits to buildings from winter storage;
• Painting – the exterior of Officer Quarters’ privy as well as the fort’s many benches; and
• Landscaping/clean-up –trimming of hedges and bushes inside the old fort, weeding and mulching flowerbeds in parking lots, cleaning up sticks, branches, and winter debris throughout the grounds, edging sidewalks and pulling young weeds that grow among the stonework of the old fort.
In addition to these yearly tasks, the support garnered from I Love My Park Day Day 2013 has prompted organizers to plan three larger scale projects this year.
“Cuts in both staffing and budgets in recent years has resulted in an overgrowth of vegetation on the bluff overlooking Lake Ontario that threatens to completely occlude views of the lake,” said fort curator and event coordinator Jenny Emmons. “With enough volunteers on May 3, it is hoped that significant clearing can be done that will benefit literally thousands of people who use the grounds of Fort Ontario annually.”
The second large scale project planned for the event is straightening headstones in the Post Cemetery.
Many of the stones in the historic cemetery are leaning and in danger of falling over.
As this little cemetery is also visited by thousands of people per year, this small improvement will impact visitors throughout the entire year.
Finally, a replacement entry sign for Fort Ontario has been received over the winter and what better time to install it than on I Love My Park Day Day?
Not only will the new sign and framework be erected, a new flower bed at its base is being designed to enhance the entrance to the fort’s main parking lot.
“Your fort needs you and every level of volunteer is needed,” said Emmons. “If you can push a broom, hold a paint brush, rake grass, carry branches, shovel mulch, etc., etc, there’s something you can do at Fort Ontario on I Love My Park Day.”
Scout troops, youth groups, sports teams, school clubs and civic organizations are all welcome.
Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own tools, although only hand tools are allowed (no power tools).
Volunteers are advised to wear appropriate foot wear, sun glasses and hats when working outside and consider wearing an extra layer of warmth as it is usually slightly cooler on the shore of Lake Ontario.
“Feel free to bring your own water and snack although a light lunch will be provided through our faithful sponsor Mark’s Pizzeria of Oswego,” said Emmons.
In addition to volunteers, organizers are also looking for area businesses and individuals interested in donating supplies and/or tools to help make Fort Ontario’s third I Love My Park Day event a rousing success.
Donors’ generosity will be acknowledged by recognizing them as an official sponsor of the event.
Individuals with expertise or backgrounds in forestry, landscaping or cemetery preservation willing to help lead project teams are also needed.
If you are interested in supporting Fort Ontario’s I Love My Park Day in either of these two ways, please contact Ron Healt at (315) 343-4711 or by email at [email protected]
Those interested in volunteering for any of Fort Ontario’s I Love My Park Day projects may pre-register for the event at www.ptny.org/ilovemypark or by emailing Emmons, event coordinator, at [email protected] or calling (315) 343-4711.