OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Approximately 250 children invaded historic Fort Ontario Tuesday evening.
The children, ages Pre-K through 10, began celebrating Harborfest a little bit early.
The Harborfest ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Committee hosted a gala to celebrate the festival’s cultural component – the history of Oswego.
Each year, the cultural component highlights a certain country during Harborfest.
It has closed the gap around the globe by gearing pre-festival activities and workshops to capture the geography, culture, and arts of different countries since its inception in 1999, according to Sean Callen, committee chair.
“This year, we’re bringing it back home to Oswego,” he said. “The cultural theme this year is ‘Historic Oswego.’ What better place to do that than right here at Fort Ontario?”
Sponsored by Entergy, the gala offered youngsters a variety of food, fun, activities and live entertainment.
“This is a real good turnout, despite the (rainy) weather,” observed committee member Brian Chetney as dozens of children arrived well before the official 6 p.m. opening.
“We’re excited, it’s a cautious excitement. It seems like it’s still a long way away. But we’re ready to go. It’s going to be a great festival,” Tom Van Schaack, Harborfest’s executive director, said of Harborfest 2009.
Children participated in arts and crafts activities at several tents Tuesday.
Many of them designed and created Ã¢â‚¬ËœHistoric OswegoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ T-shirts or hats to wear in the Harborfest ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Parade on Friday morning.
Others created placemats with historic themes and American Flags with 18 stars and 18 stripes.
McKenzie Mattison of Hannibal tried walking on stilts. It was one of the various games and activities the youngsters could enjoy at the gala.
“This is fun. There is lots to do,” she said.
“We’re focusing on the War of 1812 era,” Callen noted. “The committee did a great job putting this all together again this year.”
Jen Patterson of Cake Creations made a huge cake replica of the Oswego historic site that was enjoyed by all at Tuesday’s gala.
The audience was treated to a glimpse of the children’s musical, “Tom Sawyer.”
Featuring a cast of children from around the county, the play will be preformed at the Novelis Family Park at Fort Ontario several times during Harborfest.
The event also featured a performance by the Oswego ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Youth Orchestra.
Co-sponsored by Oswego Health, the ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Parade will get under way at 11 a.m. in East Park.
The grand marshal will be city historian Rosemary Nesbitt. She will ride in a horse and carriage.
Pre-parade activities start at 10 a.m.
The parade will travel East Fourth Street to the Novelis Family Park at Historic Fort Ontario.
Pre-parade workshops will be held for all participants on July 22 from 3 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 4 p.m. and 6 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 7 p.m. and Wednesday from 10 – 11 a.m. and noon Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 1 p.m. in Breitbeck Park.
Post-parade workshops for participants will be held July 25 and 26 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Novelis Family Park at Fort Ontario.
Harborfest is slated for July 23 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 26.
“I hope everybody comes out and enjoys the packed park we’ll have here over the weekend,” Callen said. “I really appreciate all the time and effort the members of my committee put into making this happen.”
Visit www.oswegoharborfest.com for the latest information regarding transportation options and performance schedules.