Defenders Day 2012

Fireworks over the fort.

In commemoration of the defense of Fort McHenry on September 13 and 14, 1814, Fort McHenry NM&HS will be hosting the annual Defenders' Day Weekend on September 8 and 9, 2012. Events will include musical performances, author presentations, artillery and musket firing, and fireworks. As these events occur, your visit to Fort McHenry NM&HS may be greatly impacted by crowds, limited parking and closed areas of the park. See below for information about:

- the schedule for:
Friday, September 7, 2012
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Sunday, September 9, 2012

- transportation during the SSB Weekend

-things to bring and not to bring

- the Pride of Baltimore II visiting Fort McHenry NM&HS during the SSB Weekend


Defenders' Day Weekend Schedule


Friday, September 7, 2012

Young Defenders!
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 (Fort McHenry)
Young Defenders is the largest curriculum-based educational program at Fort McHenry. Sponsored by The Friends of Fort McHenry, Living Classrooms Foundation and National Park Service, Young Defenders brings over 1,300 Baltimore City school students to Fort McHenry to learn about the heroic defense of 1814 and the writing of the National Anthem. Held on the second Friday in September, students actively participate in flag talks, serve on a cannon crew, "drill" as U.S. soldiers, tour the fort, experience civilian life, learn about African-American defenders in 1814 and even meet Francis Scott Key!

Sound the Alarm!
Time: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. (Federal Hill and Locust Point)
Join the Fort McHenry Guard living history unit as they march up Federal Hill in Baltimore's Inner Harbor for a cannon-firing, fife and drum concert, and wreath-laying ceremony. This program officially kicks off the Star-Spangled Banner Weekend in grand style! Following the ceremony, the "troops" will march to the Inner Harbor where they will board historic sailing vessels and sail to Tide Point in historic Locust Point.Landing at 7:00 p.m., the troops will parade up Hull Street to Fort Avenue through the neighborhood back to the fort!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Living History

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Fort McHenry)
On Saturday the focus shifts back to Fort McHenry with ongoing living history demonstrations and Ranger programs from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Events include cannon-firings, fife and drum concerts, talks by authors, children's programs and historic ships! The FREE evening program beginning at 6:00 p.m. features elected officials, musket firing tactical demonstration, concert by the U.S. Naval Academy band, a symbolic ship-to-shore "bombardment" and fireworks display.

9:00 a.m.Artillery firing (battery)
9:30 a.m. Musket firing (battery)
10:00 a.m.Dress parade in fort & flag raising in fort
11:00 a.m.Artillery firing (battery)
11:10 a.m."In Full Glory Reflected"- Author Burt Kummerow will do a presentation on his
new book and the British raids in the Chesapeake Bay.
11:30 a.m. Musket firing (battery)
12:10 p.m. "The Burning of Washington and the Birth of the Anthem" – anengaging
presentation by author Anthony Pitch (outside Visitor Center)
1:00 p.m. "What stirring Music!"- Fife & Drum concert in the fort.
1:00 p.m. "Small Arms of the War of 1812" Bob Hines (Visitor Center)
2:00 p.m."The Sounds of Battle!"See how land battles were fought in the War of
1812. Come and watch reenactors fire cannons and muskets and simulate battle
tactics from the early 1800s.Tactical – (program area)
3:00 p.m. "The Flag Talk!" – unroll the full-sized replica of the Star-Spangled Banner in the
historic fort!Perfect for all ages!
3:00 p.m. "The Royal Navy in the Chesapeake" presentation by Chuck Fithian (Visitor
3:30 p.m. Musket firing (battery)
4:00 p.m. Artillery firing (battery)
4:30 p.m. "What stirring Music!"- Fife & Drum concert in the fort – program also involves flag
change and closure of the fort by 5:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m. Evening program begins

Defenders' Day Celebration
Join us at 6:00 p.m. for the highlight of the weekend!The grand evening program!

Celebrate Baltimore's oldest holiday in grand style as we commemorate the 198th anniversary of the successful defense of the city from British attack and the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," our national anthem.This memorable program is free!Visitors are invited to bring coolers and lawn chairs to watch the spectacular celebration.

6:00 p.m. Evening program begins, Welcome by Master of Ceremonies
6:03 p.m. Pledge of Allegiance
6:05 p.m. Tina Orcutt (greeting by Superintendent)
6:10 p.m. Address by the Honorable John Sarbanes, U.S. Representative
6:15 p.m. Address by the Honorable Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland
6:20 p.m. Invocation: Reverend Stacey Cole Wilson, Pastor of Good Hope Union Church.
6:25 p.m. Tactical Demonstration (musket and cannon-firing demonstration by 100 War of 1812 reenactors – they will march in review following the demonstration)
6:50 p.m. Society for the Preservation of African-American Arts and Culture presentation (Historic spirituals)
7:05 p.m. "Ross and McComas"Major Edward Ross, descendent of British General Major Robert Ross, will be introduced with Brian McComas, descendent of Henry McComas by the Friends of Fort McHenry.
7:15 p.m. Concert by U.S. Naval Academy Band – ends with "1812 Overture"
8:15 p.m. Symbolic ship-to-shore "bombardment" and narrative by Francis Scott Key.
8:20 p.m. National Anthem played by U.S. Naval Academy Band
At Dark - Fireworks show by Fireworks Extravaganza!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Morning After the Battle

Time: 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. (Fort McHenry)
Sunday focuses on the morning after the battle when the National Anthem was written. Activities include the morning dress parade and raising of the large, 30 x 42-foot flag and cannon-firing salutes.The afternoon change of command ceremony is especially colorful.

10:00 a.m.Dress parade in fort & flag raising in fort
11:00 a.m. Artillery firing (battery)
11:30 a.m. Musket firing (battery)
1:00 – 2:00 p.m.Artillery & musket firing (battery)
2:00 – 2:30 p.m.Dress parade & change of command ceremony ending event


Defenders' Day Weekend Transportation

Parking is limited at Fort McHenry NM&HS and is available on a first come, first served basis. Individuals who have state issued handicap parking tags or placards may park in the designated parking spots.During the Defenders Day weekend, the park suggests that visitors consider public transportation, including the brand new free Charm City Circulator.

Charm City Circulator: Banner Route

This free bus service connects the Inner Harbor Visitor Center to Fort McHenry NM&HS. For the schedule, a route map, and hours, visit the Charm City Circulator website ( The Circulator stops at the park main gate. From there it is approximately a 200 yard walk to the Visitor Center.

The park has bike racks by the Visitor Center parking lot. Bring a bike lock to secure your bicycle to the racks.

MTA Bus #1
Maryland Transit Administration (MTA, 866-RIDE-MTA) Bus #1 stops at the park main gate. From there it is approximately a 200 yard walk to the Visitor Center. Visit the MTA website ( for more information.

Personal vehicle
The most direct route to Fort McHenry is I-95. Take Exit 55 and drive to the light at Key Highway. Follow the signs to the park. At the third light on Key Highway, turn left onto Lawrence Street. Turn left at the next light and Fort Avenue will bring you to Fort McHenry NM&HS.

Water Taxi

Note: The water taxi is scheduled to close at 5:00 p.m., prior to the evening program at Fort McHenry, on Saturday, September 8.

Water transportation is provided to Fort McHenry from various locations around the Inner Harbor. You may not either purchase tickets or originate your tour from Fort McHenry. Those arriving by boat may depart by boat - visitors must board elsewhere in the Inner Harbor area to visit Fort McHenry NM&HS by boat.The schedule varies depending on the season. During the spring through fall, Baltimore Water Taxi provides transportation from the Inner Harbor. Call ahead for the latest schedule to 410-563-3901 or 800-658-8947. Visit the water taxi website ( for more information.

Pride of Baltimore II

Pride of Baltimore II at Star Spangled Banner Weekend!

Visit the world's most renowned American War of 1812 Privateer schooner at Fort McHenry this weekend! The Pride of Baltimore II is a reproduction of an 1812-era topsail schooner. Open for visitation Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Want to go sailing? Inquire about day sails on the ship! Learn the role of the famous Baltimore privateer during the age of sail and the role of the city's maritime industry during the War of 1812! Having the Pride of Baltimore II docked at Fort McHenry makes for a winning War of 1812 combination!

For more information on the Pride of Baltimore II, visit their website (


Things to Bring
In order to ensure a fun and safe day, be sure to bring:
-Plenty of water
-Proper clothing for the weather (comfortable shoes, a hat, etc.)
- If you ride your bicycle, bring a lock for the bike rack
You are encouraged to ride your bike to the park and leave it locked to portable bicycle racks that will be set up outside of the main gate.

Things Not to Bring
The following items should not be brought to Fort McHenry NM&HS during this event:
-Beach or patio umbrellas
-Sparklers or fireworks of any type
Although Fort McHenry NM&HS allows leashed pets outside the historic zone, during this event the park will have large crowds, cannon and musket firing, and fireworks, all of which might frighten pets.

Last updated: September 7, 2012

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

2400 East Fort Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21230


(410) 962-4290 x250

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