Representatives of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Friends of Fort George have an optimistic outlook for 2024.
During Monday’s New Year’s Levee at Navy Hall, town leaders and representatives rang in the new year and spoke of their hopes for the next 12 months.
Dan Laroche, the manager of Fort George, addressed the full hall, saying that he expects more growth for tourist destinations in NOTL throughout the year.
“We’re hoping that it’s going to continue on the upscale (trend) from COVID,” he said. “We’re finally on our way up. Visitations are getting close to where they were.”
He noted new and returning events coming to Fort George this year, including fireside lectures in February and an annual whisky tasting in March, alongside numerous re-enactments and ticketed features.
Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa told the crowd that another main focus of the year will be encouraging NOTL young to help fundraise in the community.
That includes kids who have dreams of working in heritage or re-enactment — like six-year-old Jack Hill, who came dressed up in period costume to watch the cannon firing.
The Friends of Fort George organization is looking to raise funds to support this year’s youth staffing program with a naval-themed dinner on the evening of Jan. 20, hosted at Navy Hall.
The dinner is billed as “an evening with the captain” — in the person of Zalepa.
“I would urge you to consider supporting the event. All of the funds that are raised will go towards assisting the salaries of young people,” the mayor said.
Also there was Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates, who urged NOTLers to continue their involvement in town events this year.
“The reason Niagara-on-the-Lake is so special is because of days like today where we come together and celebrate,” he said. “Let’s keep it that way.”
Following the speeches, including words from MP Tony Baldinelli, Friends of Fort George president Tony Chisholm along with members Richard Merritt, Rick Meloen, Col. Bernie Nehring and Richard Coyne, was the ceremonial firing of the cannon outside of Navy Hall to help kick off 2024 with a bang.