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WARREN DILLAWAY / Star Beacon CONNEAUT TOWNSHIP Park workers move bleachers back to the a soccer field after weekend use for D-Day Conneaut.

 

One day after Allied and Axis soldiers shook hands and went home, planning began for the 2013 version of the D-Day Conneaut event at Township Park.

“We’re ready to roll,” Lori McLaughlin, the event’s chief operating officer, said Monday.

It will be hard to top this past weekend’s two-day extravaganza. The event attracted a record number of re-enactors (800 from across the country and Canada, compared to 600 last year) and huge crowds of spectators. Nearly every shuttle parking lot set aside for visitors, serviced by eight school buses, was filled on Saturday, the day of the climatic beach-front battle, McLaughlin said. Lots at Lakeshore Primary and Conneaut High schools were filled, and spectators were sent to the former Southeast School, Pittsburgh and Conneaut Dock Co. and a vacant lot at Jackson and Harbor streets.

“We’ve never had to use so many lots,” she said.

Local merchants were amazed at the number of out-of-state license plates in their lots, while visitors regularly commented on the friendliness of the residents, McLaughlin said.

More than 300 volunteers assisted the event, and the city of Conneaut and other government agencies provided important support, McLaughlin said. “I can’t begin to express how grateful we are to the volunteers and all the entities that got involved,” she said.

Boy Scouts and other youth groups began packing away the accessories, such as beach barricades, on Saturday evening, McLaughlin said. Many spent Saturday night at the park and continued the cleanup on Sunday morning.

Wayne Heim, a spokesman for the D-Day Conneaut board, said organizers heard countless compliments about the event. Next year’s event will be held Aug. 16-17, and informal talks have already begun on ways to “change and improve,” he said. A fourth mock battle may be added to the schedule, Heim said.

The number of living historians may grow, too. Several units of World War II re-enactors sent representatives to Conneaut to view the event and report back, Heim said. Many of the reps will recommend their units make the trip to Conneaut, he said.

“It could be close to 1,000 (re-enactors) next year,” he said.

D-Day Conneaut wants to thank all its local helpers for their work and assistance, Heim said. “If it weren’t for them, none of this would have happened,” he said.

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