Plans announced for first ‘Anthony Wayne Day’; downtown block party to cap events

Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne's statue in Freimann Square will be rededicated in his honor July 16. (News-Sentinel.com file photo by Kevin Leininger)

Fort Wayne’s upcoming celebration of its namesake will include historic re-enactments, educational opportunities and a downtown block party.

At a news conference Tuesday, members of the Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne Organization, Inc. released its schedule of events for the coming week. Robert Jones and Andi Hahn will be portraying Anthony Wayne and his wife, Mary Penrose, and “They will be seen at a number of local events in costume and in character, helping to make a personal connection between current Fort Wayne residents and a period of time nearly two and a half centuries ago,” group spokeswoman Judi Loomis said in a statement.

Jones is a member of the board of firectors of Historic Fort Wayne, and is active as a volunteer for several other causes. Hahn is also a volunteer of the Old Fort, and both will be riding in the July 13 Three Rivers Festival Parade. The float’s theme will mark the 240th Anniversary of the battle at Stony Point, N.Y., fought on July 16, 1779. Wayne provided leadership to carry out orders given him by Gen. George Washington to capture the heavily fortified position on the western shore of the Hudson River, 12 miles south of West Point Military Academy. Wayne later received a gold medal from the United States Congress for his gallantry.

On July 16 there will be a series of events to celebrate the first Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne Day in Fort Wayne. They include:

1. An “Honor and Appreciation Event” for Wayne at his statue in Freimann Square at 10 a.m. hosted by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which presided at the dedication of the statue in 1918;

2. Beginning at 1 p.m. at the historic Old Fort, three events will occur. First, Mark Kreps, state historian for the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), will donating to the Old Fort on behalf of that organization a copy of payroll records for soldiers who were under the command of Gen. Wayne. Then there will be a tribute to Wayne by the SAR, DAR and the Children of the American Revolution (CAR) involving a flag of that era, cannon fire and a musket salute. Then, at approximately 1:45 p.m., Jones and Hahn will answer questions from the local media while in costume and in character;

3. A panel presentation from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. will explore the Battle at Stony Point. The panel will include author Alan D. Gaff and WPTA-TV’s Eric Olsen, known for his “21 Country” historical tributes. Gaff, who will be assisted by his wife, Maureen, is the author of “Bayonets in the Wilderness: Anthony Wayne’s Legion in the Old Northwest (Campaigns and Commanders)”, as well as several other books. The presentation will also feature contemporary video and still photographs from the actual battleground and will include comments by Jones and Hahn.

4. The final event will be a family-oriented block party downtown from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in front of sponsor J K O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House on Wayne Street. The Holiday Inn North is a co-sponsor for the event, which will include live entertainment by the local band “The Windows.”

Not everyone has been supportive of the Wayne celebration, however. The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma called City Council’s creation of the Wayne Day “socially contemptible” given that it “makes no attempt to recognize that tribal nations were negatively impacted by the actions of the U.S. Army under Wayne’s leadership.” Event organizers say they invited Miamis to participate, but the tribe declined.

Loomis said plans are already underway for a celebration of the 225th anniversary of the naming of the city of Fort Wayne on Oct. 22. The group is also making plans for the 275th anniversary of Wayne’s birth on Jan. 1, 2020.