Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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December 14, 2015


OSWEGO - Friends of Fort Ontario will host a First Day Hike around the Fort Ontario National Register District on Friday, Jan. 1, beginning at 10a.m. The event is part of anationwide initiative to encourage all to begin the New Year by rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors. Historic Site Manager Paul Lear will lead the 2.5-mile family and dog-friendly hike which will proceed at a moderate pace. The free public hikewill begin inside the old stone fortification.

A highlight will be a lap in the footsteps of history around thefort'shistoric cindertrack where 1936 Berlin Olympics half-mile Gold medalistJohn Woodruffran whileservingin the all African-American 369th Anti-Aircraft-Artillery Regiment("Harlem Hellfighters"). During Woodruff's service at Fort Ontario, fellow 1936 Berlin Olympics gold medalist Jesse Owens visited and ran with him on the track.

"The 1940-41 conversion and training of the 369thfrom an infantry regiment to a more technologically sophisticated anti-aircraft artillery regiment at Fort Ontariois considered a milestone in the Civil Rights movement," said Lear. "The changemarkedthe beginning of the end of limiting African-American troops to unskilled labor rolesand racialsegregation of theU.S. Army."

Hikers, including well-mannered dogs on leashes, are advised to dress appropriately for conditionsmore "invigorating" than inland locations. Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in the City of Oswego. For more information on Fort Ontario,contact Paul Lear at paul.lear@parks.ny.gov or visit www.fortontario.com.

Hike in the footsteps of history and the 1937 Headquarters Company, 212th Coast Artillery Anti-Aircraft at Fort Ontario on Jan. 1during the 10 a.m. First Day Hike at Fort Ontario State Historic Site. While the 3rd Battalion, 28th U.S. Infantry was away on summer maneuvers and training, National Guard Coast and Anti-Aircraft Artillery units occupied Fort Ontario and trained at ranges along the shore of Lake Ontario.

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