Buffalo, NY - It was called "Party in the Park" and this fundraiser Tuesday night at the Naval and Military Park of Buffalo and Erie County was a way to help fund maintenance of the navy ships and other military equipment on display.
The question is how to defend the mighty but aging ships against the harsh weather that lashes Buffalo's waterfront. Rust on the hull can cause leaks. So now an estimated $50,000 dollars will be spent for an engineering study on USS The Sullivans which has a think steel skin as a World War Two destroyer. Park Executive Director Patrick Cunningham says "We do have funding to do what's called a hull assessment of the Sullivans. It will take, it will give us a thousand readings of the ship as to exactly how thick the hull is. It's an assessment to let us know what kind of condition it is in and then where we have to go from here. This ship hasn't been in dry dock since 1960. We've just gotta see where we stand what needs to be done to the hull to preserve it for another 50 years."
And the veteran warships are a big draw at the park. Cunningham says "Our attendance is up 25 percent this year. And I attribute that, not just to Canalside, but there's a renewed interest in the history of our country and you hear the stories of these people. Some of them are sailors who served on similar ships that have been turned into razor blades...scrapped...and they relate to their service by coming aboard here."
While Park staffers do plenty of maintenance on the "Sullivans", the "Little Rock" and other planes, military vehicles, and equipment there is plenty of volunteer elbow grease. Some volunteers, including a veteran coming in from California will help with a painting detail this weekend to keep everything ship-shape.
Technically the ships are on loan from the Navy but there is no federal funding for their upkeep. There are again some state grants with historic preservation and some county and city funding. But it's much of the costs are covered by private funding and donations.