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March 19, 2012

War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail receives award for overall excellence

Albany, NY - The War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail � was recognized by attendees of the 2012 Empire State Tourism Conference as the winner of the first-ever "Conference Attendees' Award for Excellence" during the conference held March 6 through 8 at the Albany Marriott, hosted by the New York State Travel and Vacation Association (NYSTVA).

Five New York State Regional Tourism Offices in collaboration with the International Peace Garden Foundation developed the trail map that pinpoints 17 historic sites across the state and three in Ontario, Canada. The gardens commemorate 200 years of peace between Canada and the U.S.

The full-color map identifies specific locations of each Peace Garden along with their historic significance. Each region highlights major attractions that complement visits to the gardens. Collaborating county tourism offices include Oswego, Wayne, Niagara, Erie, Genesee, and Monroe. The City of Oswego Community Development Office provided funding and support for the project.

The Oswego War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden is located at the Leotta-Seaway Trail Park on East First Street, Oswego. The garden overlooks the Oswego River and Oswego Harbor, site of the May 1814 British attack on Oswego. The garden was originally designed as a peace garden by the city engineer and donated by the Jay Saternow family. The garden is maintained by a small group of volunteers, headed by City Engineer Anthony Leotta. New signage is being installed this spring to designate the site as an official War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden.

Plants in the garden were specifically chosen to commemorate Oswego's heritage and ties to the War of 1812. Orange and yellow marigolds symbolize peace and freedom, and were the colors of the U.S. 3rd Artillery Regiment that defended Fort Ontario and Oswego during the May 1814 battle.

"The marigolds also represent the colors of nearby colleges: Syracuse University orange and SUNY Oswego green and gold," said Leotta. "The multi-colored zinnias at the center of the garden represent the many nationalities that defended Oswego. The weeping cherry behind the Peace Garden sign symbolizes the sorrow of war, while the red geraniums surrounding the garden represent the sacrifices made by patriots during the War of 1812."

During the NYSTVA conference, attendees were invited to review award nomination packets and submit a ballot for their favorite project across all submissions and categories. The project with the most votes was revealed during the closing dinner.

Conference Chairperson Suzanne Bixby believes the right project received the attendees' award for overall excellence.

"Judging by the cheers that went up at the announcement, it is evident that the Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail resonates in the hearts of fellow tourism professionals familiar with the Trail's efforts to operate and promote this multi-regional program that benefits businesses in remote areas along the trail."

This is the first year that conference attendees were given an opportunity to select an award recipient, according to Bixby. "This is our first year creating a method for tourism professionals to have a voice in recognizing one of their peers, and I congratulate the War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail as the first award recipient. We look forward to doing more to create opportunities for peer recognition of deserving tourism projects during future conferences."

For a copy of the Peace Garden Trail brochure, contact the Oswego County Tourism Office at 315-349-8322, e-mail tourism@oswegocounty.com, or go to digital.turn-page.com/issue/47855. The guide is also available at www.visitoswegocounty.com.


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