The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 18, 2013

Thousands watch World War II battle come alive during D-Day Conneaut

CONNEAUT — As planes buzzed over head and landing craft dropped World War II re-enactors on the beach at Conneaut Township Park, thousands of people waited patiently for history to come alive.

They didn’t have to wait long as D-Day Conneaut kicked into full gear with the blast of explosions and fog of mortar fire highlighting the human anguish of fallen soldiers all around.

The event has grown annually with thousands of people coming from near and far. Buses started bringing visitors to the park early Saturday morning keeping side streets relatively free of excessive traffic.

Larry Loomis, from Milwaukee, Wis., came to Conneaut with friends to fish Lake Erie and heard about D-Day Conneaut and got hooked.

“We just time it (vacation) to come fishing and go to D-Day,” he said.

Local residents also appreciate the history shown live so close to home.

“I think it is a good event. I don’t think too many of our youth know what D-Day is and this is a good way to introduce local schools to it,” said Brian Haley of Conneaut.

Betsy Bashore, chief executive officer of D-Day Conneaut, has been working with “living history” for 30 years and loves to see the event became a reality.

She took a spot on the boardwalk near where the American re-enactors came ashore to watch the masterpiece unfold.” I love coming down here and seeing how people react,” she said.

Bashore said her involvement with “living history” started when she was a 7th grade student and received an assignment regarding history.

Bashore said there were probably 1,500 volunteers and public safety officials that make the event possible. “We had 500 volunteer badges and I ran out at noon,” she said.

Trenton Nartker, of Bellbrook, Ohio, was too young to participate in the event in an official capacity. “We decided to come out and see what it is,” he said.

Nartker said he was impressed and plans to return next year as an official medic.

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