SACKETS HARBOR Pop quiz: In what era would you celebrate the nations independence with cannon fire and popular music inspired by the War of 1812 in the early 19th century, or in 2012?
Trick question, it turns out. Its both.
Theres pretty good documentation for that, said Constance B. Barone, the site manager for the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site.
The roots of Independence Day are planted firmly in 1776, and the claim to fame in Sackets Harbor dates to nearly four decades later during the War of 1812. But the historical connection was strong all the same: Revelers in Sackets on Wednesday celebrated the nations founding in much the same way Americans would have in 1812, Ms. Barone said. Hot dogs and fireworks? Thats so 2012.
Dressed in meticulously crafted garb based on what a naval officer would have worn during the War of 1812, re-enactor Theodore L. Schofield helped fire a replica cannon from the battlefield out into the bay, drawing a crowd of visitors who had questions about the swords, guns and intricate silk lacing of his overcoat. Ms. Barone said that historic documentation from about 1812 shows that in Sackets Harbor at the time, those celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence would have done so with cannon fire, too.
The crowd was looking at a veritable time machine, showing how people would have celebrated the nations independence in the early 1800s. It was less about the parties back then, Mr. Schofield said.
But it was always celebrated, he said, a few minutes after firing the cannon. The replica, a 3-pound piece, made a loud noise but didnt fire a projectile.
Only a stones throw away or a cannons shot, as it were David Ruch was entertaining a crowd of a few dozen visitors with catchy folk songs.
Like the cannon fire, the music was aurally reminiscent of the way that Americans would have celebrated Independence Day, Ms. Barone said, citing historical documents that said people celebrating in the early 1800s would also have listened to music.
A Sackets Harbor resident circa 1812, if put into a time machine and transported to 2012, might have been taken aback by the lawn chairs, speakers and microphones. But he would have recognized Mr. Ruchs lyrics.
Mr. Ruchs music included songs written by an American prisoner of war who was taken to England and songs that depict War of 1812 battles all authentic period pieces.
I think the word authentic is the key word there, Ms. Barone said.
Few Americans and even fewer British understand the significance of the War of 1812, Mr. Ruch said.
An 11th-hour state grant will help make events like this possible over the next two years, he said.
New York figured so largely in the War of 1812, Mr. Ruch said. Its part of who we are today.