By D. R. Zavagno, chairman of the Perry Group's Bicentennial Committee
Some numbers and feedback are coming in from the Bicentennial. Lake Erie Living Magazine announced “It’s with confidence that we declare the commemoration of the War of 1812 the best event ever on Lake Erie.”
The cost of the event was $893,000. 6% of the cost was contributed by businesses at Put-in-Bay. The regional economic gain was close to $10,000,000. There were 40,000 to 50,000 people at Put-in-Bay Labor Day weekend. $4,000,000 to $5,000,000 was realized on the Island. The Jet Express business was up 60% as compared to past Labor Day weekends. There were 1,400 to 2,000 boats on the lake for the Battle Reenactment with over 10,000 people on the water Labor Day. 100,000 people visited US ports during the weekend events. On Sept. 1 boat lines set a new record for passengers. All Island Marinas and many mainland Marinas were sold out.
Hotel bookings were heavy on the Islands and in Port Clinton along with some top media outlets covering the event including the New York Times, CNN, NPR, Washington Post, Chicago Sun Times, and more providing valuable publicity for the region. Hugh Hewitt broadcasted his national radio show on Friday from Cleveland and was on the Island Sunday and Monday for the events. Put-in-Bay reported selling 7,500 tour tickets. There were 8,000 to 10,000 spectators aboard. 1,450 paid to participate in the Reenactment.
Port Clinton drew 30,000 visitors while 3,000 paid to visit the two Tall Ships docked in Port Clinton. Many businesses reported record sales. Catawba Island Club also enjoyed a huge turnout of members and guests. Every lot was completely full and the club grounds were packed with people.
Kelleys Island reported selling 360 sail-away tickets for Tall Ships. Pelee Island had a record weekend with over 3,500 visitors and all of their sail-aways and dinners were sold out.