CONNEAUT — Soon after Conneaut Township Park opened on Friday, there was the sound of gunfire in the air as a slate of reenacted battles kicked off.
A group of Maquis — French Resistance — attacked a German outpost at La Fiere bridge.The attack was spotted by a pair of German reenactors on horseback, who set off from the scene quickly after spotting the attack.
There was a moment of real drama in the midst of the reenactment as one of the horses stumbled, startling the crowd.
The two sides exchanged fire for several minutes before the Maquis retreated into the woods. The German reenactors advanced, checking the bodies of the fallen.
La Fiere bridge was the site of a bloody battle, where paratroopers and soldiers dropped by gliders, fought with German troops for control of the bridge, according to the National WWII Museum.
The National D-Day Memorial has a booth at D-Day Conneaut. Keith Campbell, who was manning the the booth on Friday, said that a steady stream of people had visited the booth, and he expected more throughout the day tomorrow.
The National D-Day Memorial hosts events on the anniversary of D-Day, including a one-hour airshow commemorating this year's 75th anniversary of D-Day.
"It's up to us, all of us, to make sure people never forget," Campbell said.
Friday marked Karen Kocab's third visit to D-Day Conneaut. "My husband's a tank lover," she said. Kocab, who is from Broadview Heights, enjoys the period clothing that people wear around camp.
Wargaming.net, a video game developer that is also a sponsor of the event, has 15 computers, provided by computer manufacturer Alienware, set up at the Upper Pavilion, running World of Tanks, a video game that heavily features WWII-era tanks. In addition, the developers brought an augmented reality set-up to the event, letting visitors view tank battles through an iPad. "It's mostly a tech demo at this point," Zachary Doig, senior manager of community and events with World of Tanks, said.
Doig has been to a number of reenactment events, and said it's hard to appreciate the scale of tanks without standing next to one.
"I never get tired of seeing Sherman (tanks)," Doig said.
One of the most important events of the day took place at the veteran's tent, where visitors could stop by and listen to stories from WWII veterans.
WWII veterans were given name tags, and are provided with transportation throughout the event, in addition to preferential seating at the top of the bluffs, where the landing will take place.
A number of veterans could be seen throughout the event speaking with reenactors, talking about equipment and their experiences in WWII.
"The events within D-Day Conneaut enables our younger generation the chance to learn about D-Day and provides our honored veterans the opportunity to relive their youth and return to a moment in time so pivotal in world history," according to D-Day Conneaut's website.
Today at D-Day
• Higgins Boat Rides, Conneaut Public Dock, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Because of the landings later in the day, free Higgins Boat rides have slightly different hours today.
• Battle for La Fiere Bridge, La Fiere Bridge, 10 a.m.
After the bridge was attacked once on Friday, a combined force of French Resistance and Airborne troops assault the same position in what is expected to be a 45 minute long battle.
• Seaborne Normandy Invasion, Beach and Bluffs, 3 p.m.
The Allied assault begins, with narration about the event starting 15 minutes before the event.