World War II enthusiasts, there is a monumental living history event taking place on Thursday, August 20 (pre-event activities), Friday, August 21 and Saturday, August 22 that you don’t want to miss. D-Day Ohio, Inc. will be staging the largest D-Day (invasion of the Normandy Beaches in France on June 6, 1944) re-enactment in the United States. It is approximately a one hour, 15 minute drive from Cleveland.
Taking place on the grounds of Conneaut Township Park, this 2-day (Friday and Saturday), realistic and educational event will feature more than 1500 re-enactors from across the U.S. and Canada (representing various combat scenarios) in addition to planes, boats (amphibian Allied landings on the local beach which resembles Omaha Beach in Normandy, France) and military vehicles.
One highlight of the event this year will be the chance for visitors to take a ride in a Higgins Boat (the revolutionary vehicle which made it easier to land troops and supplies on beachheads). The rides will be offered on Thursday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and on Friday from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.). Another highlight will be the appearance by a German 88 artillery piece that will be fired on the beach each hour. And make sure you get a look at the Yankee Warrior airplane on loan from the Yankee Air Museum in Belleville, Michigan.
In addition to the Higgins Boat Rides, pre- D-day event activities on Thursday include a Classic Car Cruise-in (which will include some military vehicles) and Movie Night Under the Stars with a showing of the 1943 classic film, “Sahara” starring Humphrey Bogart at 9 p.m.
Other activities at the D-Day event (on Friday and Saturday) include an Allied Vs. Axis Soccer competition, an Allied Weapons demonstrations and an Axis Weapons demonstrations, bayonet drill demonstrations, Flamethrower demonstrations, mortar firing and an Allied Baseball Game. There will also be historic talks on such subjects as “1940’s Women’s Clothing – Fashion.” “Home Front Experience in WWII,” ‘The Army Nurse Corps” and WAC Meteorology and Intel Support”.
A “must-see” event is the Aerial Demonstration featuring the T-51 Mustang airplane taking place at 4 p.m. on Friday by the bluff. Before the big D-Day Invasion re-enactment there will be an additional battle — The Battle for La Fiere Bridge on Saturday at 11 a.m. The premier event of this gathering, the Normandy Beach re-enactment of D-Day will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m.
After the big battle, this year visitors will be able to enjoy a USO- Canteen Show being held at 5:15 p.m. at the bandstand. The D-Day event will wrap up with a USO-Style Dance taking place at the Conneaut Human Resources Center (327 Mill Street) from 8 p.m. until midnight on Saturday evening. There will be plenty of vendors offering food and beverages for purchase. Be sure to check out the Friday night Fish Fry being offered at the nearby Good Shepherd Lutheran Church from 4 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.. Cost of the dinner is $10 per person.
Hours for D-Day Conneaut are 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. – midnight on Saturday. Admission is free. It is highly recommended that you bring a lawn chair and a blanket to watch the re-enactments. There is no on-site parking. There is ample parking around town and free shuttles will be provided. For more information about D-Day Conneaut, call 440-593-2402 or get online at www.ddayohio.us.
D-Day Conneaut will take place at Conneaut Township Park located at 480 Lake Rd (Route 531) off Exit 241 on I-90 in Conneaut, Ohio. Conneaut is 73 miles from Cleveland and it is approximately a one hour, 15 minute drive.