Event Lineup for Fort McHenry’s Defenders’ Day Weekend

| September 15, 2023 | 0 Comments

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine press release: 

Public invited to celebrate Baltimore’s oldest continuously celebrated holiday “Defenders’ Day” & writing of our national anthem in 1814 – Musical performances by U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus plus Living History & Marching Bands! Fireworks are back! Governor Moore & Comptroller Lierman will kick off the evening performance & fireworks at 7pm!

 WHAT:  DEFENDERS’ DAY WEEKEND   Commemorates Defenders’ Day, Baltimore’s oldest holiday, which honors the successful defense of the city from British attack and the writing of the National Anthem in 1814! Celebrated continuously since 1815!

Highlights include: 

·        Parade through Locust Point on Friday evening

·        Living History with Fort McHenry Guard and Maryland Army National Guard – Saturday

·        Pride of Baltimore II will offer free deck tours

·        FREE Saturday Evening Program with musical performances by the U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus followed by Fireworks with musical underscore! Emceed by WBAL-TV’s Jason Newton!

·         Governor Wes Moore and Comptroller Brooke Lierman will help kick off the Saturday evening performance and fireworks!


·        Parade! The Fort McHenry Guard and other living historians, along with a contingent of National Park Service Rangers in their distinctive “green & gray”, will muster at the foot of Hull Street in Locust Point and march from Hull Street to Fort Avenue to Fort McHenry. Local residents and visitors are invited to enjoy the fife and drum music as they pass by. The National Park Trust’s mascot Buddy Bison will join the procession! The park’s main entrance gates close at 6 p.m.

 SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 16: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

·        Fun Activities for the whole family! Fort McHenry comes alive! Experience living history at military and civilian encampments showing life during 1814.  Family-oriented activities include a dress parade, children’s programs, cannon firing, and raising of the giant 30 x 42-foot Star-Spangled Banner flag over the star-shaped fort (weather-permitting).

·        Children’s Programs! All weekend, children entering the Star Fort’s 1814 barracks can “enlist” as a soldier of the War of 1812 and experience a bit of a soldier’s life by learning authentic drill commands by using wooden muskets. Children can also participate in active games common in the early 19th century! Kids can interact with the National Park Trust’s mascot Buddy Bison, too!

·         10 a.m.: Morning Dress Parade & Flag Change (inside Star Fort)

·         11 a.m. – 12 p.m.: USCIS Naturalization Ceremony for new citizens (Next to the flagpole in the Star Fort)

·         12 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.: Roar of the Drums, Voices of Baltimore! Performances by Fort McHenry Guard Fife and Drum Corps then Baltimore’s Marching Elite band & Singing Sensations chorus, along with the Marching Knights of City College (Inside Star Fort)

·         1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m.:  War of 1812 Cannon Demonstrations (East Lawn)

·         1:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:15 p.m.: Musical performances by “The Adjutant General’s Own” 229th Army Band of the Maryland National Guard (Orpheus Statue stage)

·         1 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.: Explore Stories of Defenders Past & Present: National Park Service living history programs plus a timeline of a soldier’s life by the 175th Infantry Regiment, Maryland Army National Guard (West Lawn)

 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.

FREE Evening Program begins at 4 p.m.  American Sign Language interpreters will be provided. Patrons are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets for a memorable evening – come early!

·         3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Evening Dress Parade & Flag Change (Inside Star Fort)

·         6:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.:  New Soldier Enlistment Ceremony by the U.S. Army, conducted by Major General Janeen Birckhead, Adjutant General of Maryland (Water Battery stage)

·         7 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.: Evening Kick-off by Governor Wes Moore, Comptroller Brooke Lierman, Fort McHenry Superintendent David Moore, emceed by WBAL-TV’s Jason Newton (Water Battery stage)

·         7:15 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Special Performance by Military District of Washington’s U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus emceed by WBAL-TV’s Jason Newton (Water Battery stage)

·         8 p.m.: Flag raising with musket & cannon salutes to recognize Baltimore’s defenders, past and present, then singing of our National Anthem. Followed by Fireworks with musical underscore by Military District of Washington’s U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus.

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 17: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

·        Fun Activities for the whole family! Family-oriented activities include ranger programs, tours of the Pride of Baltimore II, and raising of the Star-Spangled Banner flag over the fort (weather permitting).

LOCATION: Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine, 2400 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21230

PARK EVENT HOURS: Friday 9/15 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday 9/16 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Free after 4 p.m.), and Sunday 9/17 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.

PARK ADMISSION:  Admission to enter the Star Fort is $15 per adult (age 16 and up). The Visitor Center film, exhibits and grounds are free. Children age 15 and under are free.  The Saturday evening program is free starting at 4 p.m.

PARKING: Parking is extremely limited at Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine so visitors are urged to walk or use public transportation, especially for the Saturday evening program.

EVENT INFORMATION: https://www.nps.gov/fomc/planyourvisit/defenders-day.htm

Photo courtesy of NPS Volunteer Tim Ervin

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News releases from various sources around South Baltimore.