Buffalo, NY– September, 2007

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

July 13, 2007 Update:


September 5 – 7, 2007

Quality Hotel and Suites “at the Falls” – Niagara Falls, NY

September 5, Wednesday: Registration desk opens at 12:00 noon in the Hospitality Room. Evening welcome reception in the Hospitality Room; light snacks and refreshments will be served beginning at 18:00.

September 6, Thursday: Bus tour to the Canadian side of the Falls ($36). 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), 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 Queenston County 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 are required (e.g., birth certificate or voter registration card and driver’s license). Dig around now to make sure you meet this requirement and have your documents with you.

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! For those who just prefer to catch up with old friends and get acquainted with new-comers to the Reunion, we could organize a “pizza party” if there is enough interest. The hospitality room will be open for good camaraderie and fun. Several shipmates have written to tell us that they have memorabilia to share, and will display them in the hospitality room.

September 7, Friday: Some of you may have experienced the grandeur of Niagara Falls, so we are offering a choice:

Option 1: Niagara State Park Pass to see the US side of the Falls ($36). 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 and feel the powerful sprays. Explore Cave of the Winds 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, Prospect Point, stroll around and take in nature’s majesty. Ride up to the Observation Tower and look all around. Spend time at the Discovery Center, Aquarium, and Adventure Theater. 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! Admission to all of these park attractions, including park trolley ride, are included in the price of your Park Pass tour. A picnic lunch is arranged at the hotel, so you can take in all the magnificence at your own pace, and stop back for a little R&R in the hospitality room before getting back on the trolley. If you plan to arrive early, this Park Pass is good for admission to the attractions any day. With so many exciting places to visit, you may want to get your Park Pass mailed to you if you arrive before Sept. 5, or as soon as you arrive so as to get an early start sight seeing.

Option 2: For those who have recently visited the area, or 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 ($50). 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. There will be a casual buffet Friday night, “A Taste of Buffalo”: Buffalo hot wings (of course!), beef on Kimlewick (a Buffalo specialty), 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! September 8, 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 there. The Sullivans, a Fletcher Class ship like our beloved Stoddard, is named for the five Sullivan brothers who lost their lives in Battles of the Solomon Islands when their ships were sunk. 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 city sights and give us a little history of the area. We will stop for lunch at the Old Country Buffet, then visit the Herschell Carousel Factory Museum where we can ride on the 1916 carousel, see hand carved characters, as well as join a docent-guided tour. This tour is priced at $42. 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. Dinner entrée will feature a choice of Chicken Marsala or Almond Encrusted Baked White Fish. If you have music and/or songs that you would like to have played during the banquet, send your request and we will do our best to arrange it. If you are celebrating an anniversary, a birthday, or some other special moment at the Reunion, why not let us help to make it extra special with a favorite tune, and let us share your joy?

September 9, Sunday: Time for goodbyes until the next Reunion in Seattle – your hosts will be John Gerten and John & Cricket Laible.

Registration fee will be $60 per person, and includes a Reunion memento gift, Wednesday evening’s welcome reception, Friday night’s “Taste of Buffalo” buffet and entertainment, as well as the Saturday evening banquet with DJ music for dancing. We encourage you to bring a small gift from your part of the country or something that you wish to share in a gift exchange. These gifts have been, in the past, prizes in our raffle. This year we plan to organize a “gift exchange” for those who choose to share a gift. A raffle will still be featured, as it has been a fun event that all look forward to, and helps to raise some funds for our Treasury. The raffle will feature several “one room-day FREE” gift certificates, Niagara Falls souvenirs, Naval and Reunion memorabilia, and more!

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 are flying to Buffalo for the Reunion, please let us know your travel itinery as soon as you know. We are exploring transportation options and will send you this information. If you do not mind sharing a ride from and to the airport, we can send you itinery of others who will arrive at approximately the same time, so you can contact each other before hand; or if you wish, we can help you make arrangements in advance. If you did not indicate it on your registration form, you can let us know by phone:    1-800-362-1771, email: marilynharpster@yahoo.com , or fax: 614-895-0319. If you have questions or need any other support that we can provide, let us know. The heads-up will be very helpful to us as we are making all the arrangements from Ohio. We look forward to seeing you in Buffalo/Niagara! Until then, keep healthy, keep safe, and we will see you soon.

Your shipmate and friend, Joe Harpster Alumni Association President, 2007