Public To Rally In Support Of Fort

OSWEGO, NY – An army of supporters will gather Sunday at Fort Ontario.

“The chamber is organizing a rally to allow members of the public to show their support for keeping the fort open,” said Beth Hilton, executive director of the chamber. “It is our feeling that a public rally be held that is organized and official.”

After speaking with several people, Hilton said she felt that if someone didn’t organize an official rally, one was just going to happen.

“I feel it is better that someone kind of take the reins and organizes the rally. We already have commitments from Assemblyman (Will) Barclay and from the mayor to speak at the event,” Hilton said.

They are planning for around 1,000 people to attend, she said.

“We don’t really know. If the weather is nice, we’ll have a great turnout. It is going to go on what ever the weather; we’re Oswegonians, we’re hardy.”

The Common Council approved use of the city bandstand for the March 14 public rally in Fort Ontario’s parking lot.

Students from the high school will be taking the stage to sing “a very lovely arrangement of the National Anthem,” Hilton said.

A group of elementary students will also be attending the rally. They have written letters to the governor supporting Fort Ontario.

“A group of (fourth grade) teachers got together and had all the kids write letters to governor about why they shouldn’t close the fort. One of the students is also a re-enactor. He is coming in full costume to read his letter on stage,” Hilton said. “Fourth grade is the grade you do a lot of New York State history. So they thought this would be an appropriate project. It is amazing the number of teachers who have incorporated the fort (possibly) closing) into their curriculum.”

The young students will also lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Our elected officials are going to speak. We’ll have a number of citizens give their point of view. We’re basically taking people from all generations. We have a woman lined up who was a resident at the fort when her father was stationed there and she kind of grew up there,” Hilton said. “We’re also trying to find a representative from the refugees from Safe Haven.”

There will be a lot of individuals that speak – not just elected officials, she added.

Last week, Assemblyman Will Barclay launched an online survey asking people to weigh in on the recent proposal that Fort Ontario be closed due to state budget difficulties.

People have resoundingly said “Save the Fort.” So far, more than 1,000 people have responded to the online questionnaire, of which 98 percent said they disagree with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation recommendation to close the fort.

The rally to save fort Ontario will begin at noon.

The survey can be found at