D-Day Minus 30

A guide to enjoying the nation’s largest World War II re-enactment event on August 19-21

CONNEAUT – Spread the word: D-Day is back. It’s in Ohio. And it offers every type of civilian and military experience one can imagine, from Victory Gardens to a USO Dance. And – of course – lots of soldiers, weaponry, battles and demonstrations will all be there too. 

D-Day Ohio began in Conneaut in 1999 as a modest re-enactment of the Allied Invasion of Omaha Beach at Normandy. Conneaut was selected because of the wide, flat and sandy beach along Lake Erie at Conneaut Township Park. Over the years, the event grew in scope and size as more and more members of the military re-enactment and civilian living history community learned about the venue, the great hospitality from the sponsoring non-profit organization and the people of Conneaut, and the excellent community support for the event.
 


Perhaps the pinnacle for D-Day Ohio came in 2019, its 20th anniversary and the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion which liberated France and eventually all of Western Europe from the Nazis. There were 1,500 re-enactors from all over the word there, and a crowd estimated at 65,000 came to the three-day event. Guests of honor – veterans in the hundreds — attended. Most honored were the members of the Greatest Generation, living World War II veterans and their families. 

Then Covid-19 hit. The 2020 event was canceled.

Now D-Day Ohio is back in 2021, with necessary coronavirus precautions. Dates are THURSDAY, FRIDAY and SATURDAY, August 19-21. 

If you live in Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, or Northwest New York, there is no better end-of-summer event than D-Day Ohio. It is FREE, open to all, and you can take in as little or as much as you like for each of the three days of the reenactments and living history demonstrations. The main website with all the information is linked here: https://www.ddayohio.us/

For free general admission tickets, go to:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2021-d-day-conneaut-visitors-pass-tickets-156974315403

For free Higgins Boat ride tickets, go to:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/d-day-conneaut-landing-craft-experience-tickets-157872112739

Below are are four tidbits of advice on how to get the most out of D-Day Ohio at Conneaut:

  1. PLAN AHEAD. You must obtain FREE tickets in advance to attend. Tickets ARE complimentary, but due to coronavirus precautions Conneaut is taking safeguards to prevent a coronavirus outbreak as best possible. This is one of the precautions. Another is a code of conduct. Read that on the web page and follow it while attending D-Day Ohio. There will not be a bus shuttle service this year, except for those needing mobility assistance, and attendees are encouraged arrive early for better parking and to bring their own chairs and blankets. Wear sturdy walking shoes. Bring sun screen too! Here are the links for tickets:

2. KNOW THE SCHEDULE. Yes, the invasion at Utah Beach – a main event – is presented at 3 p.m. EACH DAY of the event this year only. But some other events are not happening every single day, and a little bit of preparation goes a long way.

Do you have a son or daughter who’s interested in communications, for example? There is Message Center Training, Morse Code Training, and Radio Training offered one time, each day, at the event. Like entertainment? You’ll want to be there for the USO Camp Show at either 9:45 a.m. or 12:15 p.m. Maybe you want to know what being a World War II chaplain was like, or how church services went back then. You’ll want to know the schedule and be there for the 1 p.m. presentation. 

Here is a link to the line-up of public events for all three days:

3. TALK WITH THE RE-ENACTORS. ASK QUESTIONS. It’s not unusual for a military re-enactor or a civilian living history to spend a minimum of $1,000 or more on uniforms or attire, weaponry, or tools of their trade. Many will devote hundreds of hours to studying and learning about the real-life people that portray, and strive hard to most accurately and faithfully present that person at D-Day Ohio. If you talk with them and ask questions, you’ll learn a lot and have a greater appreciation for the experience. If you have children with you, encourage them to listen and ask questions too. 

4. SUPPORT THE CAUSE.  If you enjoy your day at D-Day Ohio, please consider leaving a contribution to next year’s event in one of the organization’s many on-site donation buckets. Your gift will help keep the Conneaut event free in future years. You also might consider purchasing one of the limited edition event t-shirts in one of the PX location, or picking up other souvenirs of your experience. Here’s a link for online donations: https://www.ddayohio.us/donations.html

Do you own a business or wish to support the event at a higher contribution level? Consider becoming an event sponsor through a tax deductible donation. (D-Day Ohio is a 501(c)(3) organization and registered charity in the State of Ohio). Details about sponsorship are available on the main web page.

Last but not least, if D-Day looks like a lot of fun and you want to be more involved, consider joining the organization as a volunteer. The group has volunteer positions for a wide range of experience, talents and age groups and volunteer roles include everything from a few hours each year to year-round roles. 

 John Kerezy, founder of EyeonCleveland.com, is the author of this post. You can reach him at john.kerezy@tri-c.edu if you want more information or details about this or other stories on the web site.

LINKS TO 2019 STORIES ABOUT D-DAY are below:

https://eyeoncleveland.com/2019/08/10/world-war-part-3-of-3-parts/

https://eyeoncleveland.com/2019/08/05/world-war-ii-part-2/

https://eyeoncleveland.com/2019/07/30/world-war-ii-comes-to-conneaut/

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