Before there was Canalside, there was the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park. When I was little, that’s pretty much all that was at the waterfront, which meant that it was pretty much the only thing to do. One might say that the Military Park was an anchor for what was to come.
Today, the Park is suffering at the hands of COVID-19, because of the lack of visitors to the site. Typically, more than 150,000 people from all over the world visit the destination that tells the military history of Western NY. Additionally, the Park is the site of numerous monuments dedicated to fallen soldiers who risked life and limb while protecting their home country. The Park also serves as a testament to the patriotism felt for our country – a feeling that is evoked upon every visit.
In a recent community outreach effort, Paul J. Marzello Sr., President & CEO of the Park, stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent loss of revenue is threatening the very survival of The Park. We have been forced to cancel all youth encampments – a critical source of income. We do not anticipate being able to allow visitors to tour our main exhibit hall or three ships – USS Little Rock (CG4), the USS Croaker, and our flagship USS The Sullivans. We are also anticipating significant shortfall in revenue in our gift shop and from special events typically held on the fantail of the USS Little Rock.”
In response to the unprecedented dire situation that has befallen the Park, the following video was released:
As a way to jumpstart the Park’s tourism business, without the tourists, an “All Hands On Deck” campaign has been launched. Funds raised from the effort will go towards “personnel cost, ship and exhibit maintenance, overhead expenses, and safety equipment for volunteer docents, most of whom are veterans.” Also, a number of commemorative Challenge Coins have been issued:
Limited edition All Hands On Deck challenge coins can be purchased for $100 each. Only 1,000 of these specially minted, individually numbered challenge coins were created. You can order your challenge coins by clicking here.
“During these challenging times, we are grateful for any level of support you can provide.” – Paul J. Marzello Sr.