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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Star Spangled Spectacular

The Star Spangled Spectacular - a celebration of the bicentennial of the writing of the Star Spangled banner after the Battle of Baltimore; which took place at Fort McHenry... Below, a bit of a history lesson for you, in case you were unaware of the details.

Beginning at 6:00 a.m. on 13 September 1814, British warships under the command of Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane continuously bombarded Fort McHenry for 25 hours. The American defenders had 18, 24, and 38-pound cannons with a maximum range of 1.5 miles. The British guns had a range of 2 miles, and their rockets had a 1.75-mile range, but neither guns nor rockets were accurate. The British ships were unable to pass Fort McHenry and penetrate Baltimore Harbor because of its defenses, including a chain of 22 sunken ships, and the American cannons. They were, however, able to come close enough at maximum range to fire rockets and mortars at the fort. Due to the poor accuracy of the British weapons at maximum range, and the limited range of the American guns, very little damage was done on either side before the British ceased their attack on the morning of 14 September due to a lack of ammunition. Thus the naval part of the British invasion of Baltimore had been repulsed. Only one British warship, a bomb vessel, received a direct hit from the fort's return fire, which wounded one crewman. The Americans were under the command of Major George Armistead. They did suffer casualties, amounting to four killed and 24 wounded, including one African-American soldier and a woman who was cut in half by a bomb as she carried supplies to the troops. At one point during the bombardment, a bomb crashed through the fort's powder magazine. Fortunately for the defenders, either the fuse was extinguished by the rain or the bomb was merely a dud. Francis Scott Key, a Washington lawyer who had come to Baltimore to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes, a civilian prisoner of war, witnessed the bombardment from a nearby truce ship. An oversized American flag had been sewn by Mary Pickersgill for $405.90 in anticipation of the British attack on the fort. When Key saw the flag emerge intact in the dawn of September 14, he was so moved that he began that morning to compose the poem "Defence of Fort M'Henry" which would later be renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner" and become the United States' national anthem. ~ Information courtesy of Wikipedia, because this isn't a paper, ha-ha!

Some "mates" hanging out on the mast of one of the tall ships.

A statue of Orpheus as part of the memorial at Fort McHenry.
I wasn't sure I was actually going to be able to go on this little jaunt because the joy of working retail means you have to work weekends on occasion! There were tall ships moored in the Inner Harbor, villages set up with food and entertainment, an air show featuring the Blue Angels and of course, a grand symphony performance with a dazzling fireworks show...and a 70% chance of rain. We packed up on Saturday morning and went anyway; below are some pictures from the day!

My very neat, very free bag that was handed to me when I arrived at Fort McHenry. Cool!

There were re-enactors everywhere; I have to admit I find this kind of thing so cool!

Even the teeniest of them joined in on the re-enacting; so funny!
It started to drizzle rain around 10 in the morning and so since my Mom and I were en route to touring the Fort, we decided to walk a little quicker and get inside the walls of the fort where there might be more shelter - I had my umbrella but someone had decided to leave hers with my Dad and the other things; she was sure she wouldn't need it. Ha! I've never been to Fort McHenry before, so I took plenty of time to wander around (among the crowd of people!) and see things while my Mom hung out under an awning...she'd been before and getting wet didn't seem like a good idea! I did manage to coax her out once or twice to take some pictures - they couldn't all be selfies!

Entering the fort...

The view from one of the ramparts...

Looking back at the Fort from outside, perched on one of the ramparts.

Fort McHenry rain selfie - ha-ha!

The Chesapeake Bay!

Just being cheesy with this statue of Francis Scott Key! I was adding my verse to the National Anthem...ha!

Good job with that poem Francis; it's lovely set to music!

Look guys - I found a flag!

And the cannons go "boom"!

I don't even know...doesn't everyone get all posed in front of cannons?

A jail cell buried deep under the reinforcements of the ramparts - so cozy!
Our friends Doug and Jen as well as their two girls, Emily and Amelia joined us around 11:30 and at this point it was raining full out! While they stayed well huddled in a cluster of umbrellas waiting for it to pass, I took Emily back toward the Fort so we could find a bathroom. Once we made use of the facilities, we further explored the Fort with Emily pursuing through a mock-up of the Captains' quarters, poking her nose into the magazine and ever so hesitantly (with a tight grip on my hand) peeking down the hallway at some jail cells... We met back up with our families at the food tent where we had lunch and then we wandered back toward the bay in the drizzle to see about getting seats for the air show.

Miss Priss & her umbrella...which was about five times her size!

Investigating the Captain's quarters...

I said "don't sit on the wet cannon!" & she plopped down with a grin. *sigh*

Hey - what was this thing used for?

She said "oh - take my picture again" Ha-ha! :)

Miss Amelia all bundled up in her patriotic hoodie - I love it!

She says "guys - what are we doing, it's raining!"

The rain was no problem for Amelia; she curled up all cozy & slept for almost two hours! And yes, I know my Under Armour stickers are fierce...the things you do to appease an 8 year old...

Easily the best seat in the house!

The rain has finally quit & it's time for the air show...& Amelia could care less!

The Star Spangled banner...still waving...
As mentioned above, there was also an air show involved in the spectacular and I know what you're thinking - they surely didn't do an air show in the rain?!? And well, they didn't. Happily it decreased to a light mist around 2:30 and that allowed the two helicopters to do their demos...once they were done, the ceiling (that's a weather term...I think...) had risen to 900 feet and the F-18 Hornet was able to perform...and once that was done, the ceiling was above 1000 feet and the Blue Angels were able to let it rip! They did have to perform what is called a low show, but it was still pretty awesome and funnily enough, the roar of the airplanes didn't seem to faze Amelia at all! Granted, deciding she was hungry certainly fazed her...but not the airplanes!

About to cross & break...whoosh!

There are planes flying over us? What planes...I'm asleep.

The diamond formation!

Speeding past us one last time!

Emily with two of the re-enactors!

The ladies of the Fort watching the commotion from the balcony.

It's time to march out of the Fort...

She said "lets trade sunglasses & take a picture"...okay, sure.

Don't judge.
After a final walk around the Fort, we scoped out our seats for the concert and fireworks. The menfolk oh so kindly went and fetched some supper for us and then we settled in, mostly waiting to see what was promised to be an epic fireworks show! The concert opened with over an hour of people making speeches - woe is me! I thought Emily was going to go crazy and I completely understood...I'm an adult (I think) and I was about ready to climb the walls by the time the music finally started! Once the music ended, everyone rose to sing the National Anthem...and at the end, the bay came alive with fireworks! They were shooting off in four locations around the bay, almost like some kind of fireworks in the round show. I must admit, they were easily the most impressive fireworks I've ever seen...and Amelia slept through them all!

Grinning at her big sister's goofiness!

So sweet - having a sister is the best.

Hey there - is that a smile for me?

The sky was on fire...even before the fireworks started!




The fireworks spelled U-S-A when the song playing sang out those letters...so cool!

The Bicentennial - 1814-2014 - very impressive!

The Grand Finale!

Walking back to the car through the streets of Baltimore.

A Ferris wheel at the Inner Harbor, all decked out for the occasion!
There you have it - it was certainly an eventful way to spend a Saturday and I'm so thrilled that now that I live in the area, I am able to experience all these kinds of events. Hey, just being an hour and forty-five minutes from Baltimore on a regular Saturday doesn't stink too bad either!

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