Buffalo, NY– September, 200

From:  Joseph W. Harpster, Alumni Association President, 2007 

Dear fellow shipmates and friends:  We are working hard to finalize arrangements for the upcoming reunion in the Buffalo/Niagara area. At the request of your Webmaster Dan Withers and your Alumni Secretary Carlene Rauh, this note provides some preliminary information for your planning use. 

Several proposals have been received from candidate host hotels; Marilyn and I plan to make a site visit early in 2007 to finalize the selection, and to establish the Reunion dates. We want to report that we will most likely choose a hotel in the Niagara Falls area, to take advantage of all the sights and action around this unique Wonder of the World. If you have been there, you surely know that it can easily take several days to enjoy the sights; if you have never been there, you will not want to miss the opportunity to spend extra time in the area.

Our tentative plans are

Wednesday: Registration and evening welcome gathering in the Hospitality Room.  Thursday: bus tour to the Canadian side of the Falls - stroll along the park area by the Falls, deluxe box lunch at the park, viewing of the Falls and surrounding areas from the renowned Skylon Tower (775 ft high observation deck, providing panoramic views up to 80 miles around on a clear day), visit to the famed Floral Clock and Table Rock House, see the great whirlpool rapids and cable cars, take a scenic drive along the Niagara River, and visit the charming, picturesque and historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, among other sites.

For the adventuresome,Thursday evening might lure you to the Seneca Niagara Casino down the street from the hotel where you can try Lady Luck, take in the sights and sounds of main street Niagara, or go for a nearby walk in the park to enjoy the sight of the beautifully lighted falls at night and hear the thundering waters – another spectacular experience not to be missed. 

Friday: Because some of you may have experienced the grandeur of Niagara Falls, we plan to offer a tour choice:

Option 1: A special US Niagara State Park Pass to spend the day visiting the US side of the Falls. This Pass provides discounted admission to most of the Park’s highlights. We will organize smaller groups to sightsee together. Get together with your shipmates and companions, take the elevator down to the basin for a not-to-be-missed boat ride to the bottom of the Falls on the Maid of the Mist and feel the power of the spray from the Bridal Veil and the Horseshoe Falls; walk to the Cave of the Winds, and take in the power of Nature. Ride the scenic trolley to see the many scenic locations, such as Goat Island, Three Sister Islands, Tarrapin Point, Luna Island, Prospect Point, and take in the magnificent views of all the falls from the Observation Tower. A trolley stop is within a block or two of our hotel, and the trolley will take you to these scenic overlooks; get back on the trolley at your own pace and continue your explorations. We plan to offer a picnic lunch so you can leisurely enjoy all the magnificence of Nature here.

Option 2: For those who have recently visited the area, or prefer a more dry and relaxing pace, we plan to schedule an alternate tour, to the Lockport Locks, where you will enjoy a two hour ride on a boat through several turn of the century locks, experience the scenic sites along the Erie Canal. The Grand Old Erie Canal connects the Hudson River & the Atlantic Ocean at sea level with the Niagara River and the Great Lakes at 570 ft above sea level. This 363 mile engineering feat was dug by hand between 1817 and 1825! The locks you will see and experience feature the 50 ft elevation of the Niagara Encarpment, the same rock formation that forms the great Niagara Falls. You will see the unique upside-down rail road bridge, lift bridges and sights that reflect what it was like a century ago. There will be a bountiful hot buffet lunch at the Canalside Emporium, an elegant renovated warehouse with a canal town atmosphere. Also planned is a visit to one of the local wineries where you will not only see the working winery, but also sample the local favorite flavors, and perhaps choose to bring home a few bottles of vintage wine. Fall is a beautiful time in western New York, and this ride will surely be memorable. 

There will be a buffet dinner Friday night, to feature the local flavors of Buffalo. 

Saturday: We will visit the Naval and Military Park where the USS Sullivans (DD-537) is docked, along with the USS Little Rock (CL-92, later CLG-4) – the only guided missile cruiser that is a museum ship in the US. We will have our Memorial Service aboard the Sullivans (check out the weblink) – as many of you know, she is named for the five Sullivan brothers who lost their lives in the Battle of the Solomon Islands when their ship sunk. She is a Fletcher Class ship like our beloved Stoddard. We hope to have special arrangements in place to permit entry into many areas of the ship – maybe you will find your bunk site (as I did mine!) or your own hide-away spot from long ago. We also may stop at the Hobby and Craft Market where there are many trains, die cast toys and doll collectibles, along with wonderful operating train layouts. There is a rare 29 ton caboose too. Buffalo is known for its unique architecture, and our guide will take us through down town Buffalo to see the city sights and give us a little history of the area.  We will return to our host hotel after this tour, hold our annual business meeting, then feast at our banquet, with music and entertainment for your enjoyment.  We want to thank Dave Pietz for his early evaluation of the accommodations in Buffalo. The information he provided was of great value to us in selecting where we would bunk-up for this visit to the Sullivans area. The dates for the Reunion will depend on the hotel we select, as the availability to host our group is different at each hotel. But mark your calendar now for September 2007, and plan to join us for another grand gathering! 

Niagara is 20 miles from the Buffalo airport. If you plan to fly to the area to attend the Reunion, please let us know early so we can explore transportation options for those who might need this service.

We will have the registration forms for you after the arrangements have been finalized. If you know now that you plan to attend, please let us know early by phone: 1-800-362-1771, or email: jharpster@intekflow.com , or fax: 614-895-0319, so we can better plan for the events; the early heads-up will be very helpful to us as we are making all the arrangements from our home in Ohio.

We look forward to see you in Buffalo/Niagara!