Reenacting a major part of history - Titusville Herald: News

Reenacting a major part of history

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Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2019 5:00 am

The normally quiet borough of Tidioute will be plunged into a war zone this weekend, as the annual World War II reenactment makes its return.

Being the 11th iteration of the yearly mock battle, reenactment organizers have decided to switch things up this year by introducing an all new battle. Whereas in previous years the event recreated the Battle of Remagen, 2019 will see the Battle of Nijmegen, which was part of Operation Market Garden in 1944.

“Well, we thought that after 10 years doing the same battle, we told the story of that battle pretty well,” said Pat Tarasovitch, member of the 99th Infantry Division Historical Society. “And we thought that, this year being the 75th anniversary of Market Garden, we would do that for the visitors.”

Operation Market Garden was an attempt by Allied forces to capture a number of bridges deep into Nazi-held territory in Holland. At the time, it was the largest ever airborne assault by the Allies.

However, the battle ended in failure for Allied forces. The German army was able to overrun many of the paratroopers and take back the captured bridges. The failed assault was famously depicted in the 1977 film “A Bridge Too Far.”

“It’s going to be a lot different,” Tarasovitch said of the battle. “There’s probably no place that I know about where the Germans get to win a public battle.”

The actual battle won’t be the only thing different about this year’s event. All new pyrotechnic displays have been prepared, and there will be many new vehicles deployed in the show compared to last year. Among them are recreations of German tanks, which were made using old American armored personnel carriers. There will also be restored American jeeps.

Tarasovitch said that reenactors from not only the United States, but also from Canada will be taking part in the mock battle. Volunteers from up and down the east coast are getting involved, as well as several from Ohio and Michigan.

“It looks like a Hollywood movie,” Tarasovitch said. “Everyone knows they’re part of the play.”

One special feature of this year’s reenactment will see German soldiers transporting wounded Allied soldiers off the battlefield. According to Tarasovitch, there was an agreement in place for both sides to take care of the other’s casualties following a battle. A German medical tent has been set up to receive the “injured” actors.

All of this takes a lot of organization by event planners well in advance of the actual battle, according to Lee Lindemuth, a member of the organization committee.

“It’s a year’s worth of planning and preparation,” said Lindemuth said.

The battle, which runs along an old railroad grade near Scott Street and ends on a hillside above Route 62, crosses multiple properties. The organizers must get the permission from each, as well as the go ahead from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to close down Tidioute Bridge for the fight.

However, all of the work and effort is worth it to the organizers.

“It’s really important to try and teach the younger generation about what that generation did, because it was significant — it changed the world,” Lindemuth said. “Hopefully we’re lighting a spark where they’ll become interested in history, look into it, research it.”

The event averages around 2,225 attendees every year, and sees around a dozen World War II veterans visiting in person. There is a special seating area for veterans from all time periods to watch the battle.

Even the town of Tidioute itself will get involved this year. During the actual Operation Market Garden, Dutch towns would wave orange flags to welcome Allied troops. Even planners have put the word out to local businesses and residences to hang orange flags from their homes. All of this is to more faithfully recreate the look and feel of the original battle.

“In class, a teacher can explain it, you can look at pictures, you can read it in a book, but to have it reenacted and see the sights and sounds, you really get the impact,” Lindemuth said. He further said that many World War II veterans have become emotionally affected watching the event and commented on how real it seemed.

In terms of safety, watchers will be separated from the main battle by barriers, some of which are props made to resemble equipment from the actual battle. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will send a patrol boat to help keep other watercraft away from the bridge during the battle, and all vehicles undergo an inspection the day before the reenactment to ensure their breaks and other functions are working.

Lindemuth said that the event usually doesn’t have any trouble from the crowd, and has found that attendees are usually good at cleaning up any trash they accumulate while watching.

“That’s a testament to the type of people who are drawn to this event,” he said.

The reenactment is organized by the 99th Infantry Division Historical Society, with the help of Tidioute Borough, Limestone Township, Tidioute Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8803 and the Servicemen’s Home Corporation. The reenactment will take place at 3 p.m. on Saturday. On both Friday and Saturday, a military camp will be set up at the baseball fields in Limestone Township south of Tidioute Bridge. Attendees will be able to visit the camp to see displays of vehicles, uniforms and other exhibits, many of which will be used in the battle. Following the reenactment on Saturday, there will be a “Victory Dance” starting at 6 p.m.

Throughout the weekend, there will also be vendors and food stalls set up.

The battle is free and open for the public to attend.

Ray can be reached, by email, at sray@titusvilleherald.com.

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Welcome to the discussion.

2 comments:

  • Noahs Bark posted at 5:54 pm on Wed, Jul 31, 2019.

    Noahs Bark Posts: 118

    I wish City Council would hire all these guys to the TPD. We all know our Boys in Blue could use some help. These LARPers would be just the ticket.



     
  • Jahoba posted at 7:15 am on Wed, Jul 31, 2019.

    Jahoba Posts: 240

    I hope there is a strong police presence. Alcohol could unnecessarily be present at this type of function.



     

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