4-year-old who donated piggy bank to “Save the Sullivans” campaign was first official Naval Park visitor of 2021


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Erie County Naval and Military Park welcomed visitors back to the park on Saturday. The opening day and ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off at 9:30 a.m.

This year’s opening is two full months ahead of 2020’s limited opening due to the ongoing pandemic. However, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, events and self-guided tours will resume this season.

The Naval Park continues to raise money for the “Save the Sullivans” campaign. The fundraising effort began in late February after it was announced USS The Sullivans was in need of extensive repairs and might sink.

One donor, four-year-old Arrow Swartwout, donated his piggy bank to the cause. The Naval Park honored Swartwout for his contribution, allowing him to be the first official 2021 visitor at the park opening.

“Arrow is a special kid and we wanted to let him know how much we appreciate his donation,” said Paul Marzello, President and CEO of the Buffalo Naval Park. “We invited Arrow and his grandmother to join us at the Opening Ceremony and be the first visitors aboard the ships for the 2021 season.”

You can visit the park Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. — ticketing information is available here. Attendance will be limited to just 50 people every half hour for self-guided tours. Certain compartments of the ships will stay closed to promote social distancing.

Officials with the park say they’ve made the temporary repairs to stop her from sinking. The park is still working to raise the million dollars to keep the Sullivans around for generations to come.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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