Baltimore is gearing up for a huge influx of tourists in the next week as the Star-Spangled Spectacular steams into the Inner Harbor and other locations along the city’s famed waterfront. The event, which celebrates the 200th birthday of the national anthem, officially kicked off yesterday at Fort McHenry, but begins in earnest today with the arrival of tall ships and naval vessels from across the world. It runs until Tuesday, Sept. 16th when these ships depart. In the days between, the Star-Spangled Spectacular will feature everything from air shows, concerts, and food to ship tours and a fireworks show designed to replicate the bombardment of Fort McHenry. All of this is expected to draw over one million people to Baltimore.
The Star-Spangled Banner
The event is being held to commemorate the 200th birthday of the national anthem, which was born during the Battle of Baltimore on September 12-15, 1814. Inspired by the American’s successful defense of the city against the British bombardment of Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key composed a poem titled “Defense of Fort McHenry.” The first stanza of the poem later was set to the tune of the song “To Anacreon in Heaven” (ironically, composed by the Englishman John Stafford Smith) and became “The Star-Spangled Banner” as we know it today. The song gained popularity throughout the 1800s, and was officially adopted as the national anthem in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover.
Market Research Turns a “Sailabration” into “Spectacular”
Baltimoreans may remember the Star-Spangled Sailabration which was held in 2012 to commemorate the beginning of the War of 1812. The event’s organizers have said that this event helped serve as a dress rehearsal for the Spectacular in more ways than one. In addition to the larger scale of the Spectacular, organizers used what they learned from the Sailabration to conduct market research and increase awareness of the event. Here are some highlights of the economic impact of 2012’s event:
- With a total impact estimated at $166.1 million, the impact of Sailabration compares favorably to national sports leagues, large trade shows, and political conventions.
- Survey research shows that more than 1.1 million Marylanders experienced the event, while another 435,000 visitors came from out-of-state. Survey respondents included residents of 23 other states, reaching as far as Massachusetts and Connecticut to the north, Florida, Texas and Mississippi to the south, and California, Colorado and Oregon to the west.
- 68.3% of visitors are very likely or likely to attend another SS200 event in Maryland commemorating the War of 1812.
- 28% of survey respondents residing outside the city experienced the Inner Harbor/downtown for the very first time this year.
Looking at the Star-Spangled Spectacular, there’s good reason for excitement around the city. Here are some promising points:
- Visit Baltimore CEO, Tom Noonan, was quoted in the Baltimore Sun as calling the Spectacular, “the largest tourism event in our city’s history.”
- The city will be showcased on three separate live television broadcasts.
- Over a million people are once again projected to visit Baltimore during this year’s event.
With a Ravens home game against the Steelers on Thursday night and Derek Jeter’s final trip to Camden Yards with the Yankees this weekend, it is sure to be an exciting stretch of days in Baltimore. Be sure to join in the fun!
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