BUFFALO, NY – After the normal off-season and an unexpected three-month delay due to COVID-19, the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park will be ready to open for the 2020 season on Wednesday 15 July 2020 at 10:00am. The announcement was made by Paul Marzello, president and CEO for the Naval Park. “I am very excited that we are able to welcome back visitors to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park for the 2020 season” commented Marzello. “For a time, we were not sure opening was going to be possible. The Naval Park used the extended time-off to clean, sanitize, plan, and modify facilities and exhibits to maximize visitor experience within a safe environment.”
The Naval Park, which welcomes more than 70,000 visitors in a typical year, has had to make substantial modifications due to COVID-19. In addition to adjusting exhibits and tour routes to accommodate social distancing, employees and volunteers will now make face coverings a part of their uniforms. Visitors will also be required to wear face coverings while visiting the Naval Park. Additionally, tours of the ships (USS Little Rock, USS The Sullivans and USS Croaker) will be self-guided and limited to the exterior main deck only. “While we have modified the manner in which visitors experience the Naval Park, we think we have captured the best parts and enhanced the experience. Our crew of docents are extremely knowledgeable and provide unique insights during the tours” commented Marzello.
In addition to the ships, the Naval Park monuments, main exhibit building, retail shop and concessions will all be open for business. Liberty Hound, a popular lunch and dinner destination, will also be open with special hours and dining arrangements.
The Naval Park will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00am-5:00pm. Naval Park officials anticipate opening more areas of the ships in the future and are offering reduced admission prices in the meantime. Adults (13 yrs.- 64 yrs.) $10.00, Youth (5 yrs.-12 yrs.) $5.00, Seniors (65 yrs.+) and Veterans $8.00, Children 4 and under are FREE. Naval Park members, Active Duty military and Blue Star families receive FREE admission. “Even with the increase in costs of COVID-19 protocols and PPE requirements, we felt it was important to keep The Naval Park accessible to families, so we have not raised prices – to the contrary, we have reduced prices” added Marzello.
The Naval Park which typically hosts numerous events including fundraisers, commemoration ceremonies and private events, is evaluating events on a case-by-case basis given the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
All Hands On Deck campaign puts out the call for assistance
Although The Naval Park will be open, the non-profit organization finds itself in difficult financial situation and is launching a major fundraising campaign. All Hands On Deck is an initiative that will raise money to support Naval Park operations. “Due to limitations of COVID-19, The Naval Park has had a significant drop in operating revenue and must replace this revenue to stay afloat.” commented Terence McGuire, chairman of the board of directors for The Naval Park. “As a nonprofit organization, The Naval Park has always relied on support from private donors and foundations, as well as corporate support. This year, with the loss of revenue, The Naval Park must raise $100,000 with the All Hands On Deck campaign.” Money raised by the effort will directly support Park operations including personnel cost, ship and exhibit maintenance, overhead expenses, and safety equipment for volunteer docents – most of whom are veterans.
All Hands On Deck includes a general fund drive through direct mail, email and online giving, as well as support from corporate sponsors. The Naval Park is also selling limited edition All Hands On Deck Challenge Coins. Only 1000 Challenge Coins were minted and appeal to collectors in Western New York and across the country. Information about the All Hands On Deck campaign and
how to give securely online can be found at www.buffalonavalpark.org/allhandsondeck.