From: Joseph W. Harpster, Alumni Association President, 2007
Dear fellow shipmates and friends:
Marilyn and I just returned from a site inspection visit to the Buffalo/Niagara area. We are delighted to announce that the 2007 Reunion will be held at the Quality Hotel & Suites “At the Falls” September 5-9 (
www.qualityniagarafalls.com )! We want to thank Dave Pietz for making the initial contacts for potential accommodations in Buffalo. This information established a good basis for us to begin our efforts. Braving the frigid temperature, snow and ice, we recently made a site visit to inspect the facilities and to make the final selection. While there, we visited the falls and were awed by nature’s grandeur.
The Quality Hotel & Suites is a beautiful facility, newly renovated and just a few minutes walk from the mighty Niagara Falls. The Reunion rate at the hotel is $89.00 per night plus tax (standard room with two double beds, single or double occupancy), and includes full American Breakfast Buffet; this rate will be honored from Labor Day (September 3) through 11th. Make your reservation directly with the hotel at: 1-877-282-1212, and ask for the USS Stoddard Reunion rate. If you have visited here, you surely know that it can easily take several days to enjoy the area’s magnificence; if you have never been to Niagara, you will not want to miss the opportunity to extend your stay. So plan now to join us for a great gathering of shipmates and friends. The following is an outline of the planned program:
Wednesday: Registration and evening welcome reception in the Hospitality Room.
Thursday: Bus tour to the Canadian side of the Falls(
www.infoniagara.com ). Stroll along the park area by the Falls, view the Falls and surrounding areas from the Skylon Tower (775 ft high observation deck, providing panoramic views up to 80 miles around on a clear day) (
www.skylon.com ), visit Floral Clock and Table Rock House, see the great whirlpool rapids and cable cars, take a scenic drive along the Niagara River, and enjoy the charming, picturesque and historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. We will serve a deluxe box lunch at Queen Victoria Park, in a reserved area with shelter. A passport is not required in 2007 to travel to Canada by car; but proof of US citizenship and photo ID will be needed (e.g., birth certificate or voter registration card and driver’s license). Look around now to make sure you find these needed documents!
Thursday evening might lure you to the Seneca Niagara Casino down the street where you can try Lady Luck. Or you may choose to take in the sights and sounds of main street Niagara, or go for a walk in the park to see the beautifully illuminated Falls at night and hear the thundering waters – another spectacular experience not to be missed. In addition to the hotel’s on-premise Legends Bar and Grill where there is great food as well as a pool table to enjoy a friendly game, there are lots of dining options nearby; and we will stuff your “welcome bag” with coupons for some extra savings!
Friday: Some of you may have experienced the grandeur of Niagara Falls, so we are offering two full day activities for you to choose the one that best fits you:
Option 1: Passport to the Falls Park Pass (
www.niagarafallsstatepark.com ) to see the US side of the Falls. Admission to all of the park attractions, including park trolley ride, and lunch, will be included in the price of your Park Pass tour. We will organize groups to sight see together. A park trolley stop is two blocks from our hotel; hop on and ride, get off at a stop to sight see; get back on and continue your exploration. Don’t miss the boat ride to the bottom of the Falls on the Maid of the Mist (
www.maidofthemist.com ) and feel the powerful sprays. Ride up to the Observation Tower and look all around. Explore Prospect Point and the Cave of the Winds (
www.caveofthewinds.com ) at the base of the Bridal Veil Falls, walk the wooden decks and stairs, experience the pounding waters just a few feet away. Ride to other scenic points, such as Goat Island, Three Sister Islands, Luna Island, stroll around and take in nature’s majesty. Spend time at the Discovery Center (
www.niagaraaquarium.com , and Festival Theater (
www.niagaraadventuretheater.com ). The natural and local history of the Niagara Gorge and Falls is fascinating. This year a brand new I-format film will debut at the Theater; it will put you “in the Falls” while in your seat – so hang on! With this tour you can take in all the magnificence at your own pace.
Option 2: Some of you may prefer a more dry and relaxing day. Sign up for the Lockport Locks tour, where you will enjoy a two hour boat ride through turn of the century locks and see sites along the Grand Old Erie Canal (
www.lockportlocks.com ). This 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! WOW! The locks you will pass through feature the 50 ft elevation of the Niagara Escarpment, the same rock formation that forms the great Niagara Falls. Ride under the unique upside-down railroad bridge and lift bridges, view scenery that reflect what it was like a century ago. A bountiful hot buffet lunch is served at the Canalside Emporium, an elegant renovated warehouse with a canal town atmosphere. You will also visit a winery, sample the local flavors, and perhaps choose to bring home a few bottles of vintage wine. Fall is a beautiful time in western New York, and this tour will surely leave lasting memories.
Aback at the hotel, there will be a casual buffet Friday night, “A Taste of Buffalo”: Buffalo hot wings (of course!), beef on Kimlewick, pulled pork and more, plus a fantastic assortment of desserts. After you eat your fill, a local group will entertain us with “Lest We Forget – In Honor of Our Veterans” – a show with music, comedy and more that we will surely remember!
Saturday: We will visit the Buffalo Naval and Military Park (
www.buffalonavalpark.org ) 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 there. The Sullivans, a Fletcher Class ship like our beloved Stoddard, is named for the five Sullivan brothers who serve together on one ship during the Battle of the Solomon Islands. We are working on special arrangements 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. Buffalo is known for its unique architecture, and our guide will take us through down town Buffalo to see the historic waterfront, city sights and give us a little history of the area. We will stop for lunch, then visit the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum (www.carrouselmuseum.org
) where we can ride on the 1916 carrousel, see hand carved characters, as well as join a docent-guided tour. Returning to our host hotel after this tour, we will hold our annual business meeting, then feast at the banquet in the ballroom, with music and dancing for your enjoyment.
So mark your calendar now for September 5-9, 2007 for another grand gathering! If you are thinking about making this a “family vacation,” this hotel will give your young ones complimentary admission to the adjoining, 7-story, glass enclosed Family Fun Center where they can explore. For shipmates and friends who still like a smoke from time to time, don’t be concerned about the New York law banning smoking in public places: this hotel has a beautiful, spacious indoor smoking lounge on the ground floor with comfortable sofas and big screen TV, so smoke breaks will be enjoyable!
Niagara is 20+ miles from the Buffalo airport. If you plan to fly to Buffalo for the Reunion, please let us know early so we can explore transportation options should you need this service. The registration forms are being readied and will be posted on the website soon, and also sent out in our April Newsletter. If you know now that you plan to attend, let us know early by phone: 1-800-362-1771, email:
email@example.com , or fax: 614-895-0319. The heads-up will be very helpful to us as we are making all the arrangements from Ohio. We look forward to see you in Buffalo/Niagara!