Meg Loncharic: Mariner's Ball a huge success

Posted: June 10, 2012 at 5:16 am

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Every time the U.S. Brig Niagara is the focus of an event, it draws a crowd. More than 500 people attended the second Mariner's Ball, held June 2 at the Erie Maritime Museum.

The Perry 200 Commemoration chaired by Denise Illig Robison paid tribute to Erie's rich naval heritage.

This unforgettable evening had it all -- from a VIP party complete with signature cocktail to a War of 1812 color guard. There were cannon blasts, three flyover salutes and a fireworks display.

The gala more than lived up to its theme: A Salute to the American Spirit. Guests included U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, of Titusville.

Niagara Senior Capt. Walter Rybka presented the 2012 Mariner's Award to Rear Adm. Matthew Kohler. Now living in Fort Mead, Md., Kohler is deputy commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, and deputy commander, U.S. 10th Fleet. The admiral's parents, Joseph and Sally Kohler, his twin brother and three sisters also attended the gala.

The fete highlighted an honorary committee of naval officers with ties to Erie who formed the receiving line.

Lt. Cmdr. Stuart Dye, of Bethesda, Md., who's married to Mary Virginia Illig Dye, sister of Denise Robison, also enjoyed the party.

Other guests included Lt. Leigh Loesel, a naval fighter pilot from Lemoore, Calif., and Lt. Stuart Zurn, of Reading, who's a retired Navy SEAL. Capt. Robert Lasher and his son, Cmdr. Brian Lasher, were also in attendance.

The greeters included Lt. Cmdr. Jason Anders of West Palm Beach, Fla.; Rear Adm. Robert Frick of Haymarket, Va.; Capt. Eric Marshall, of North East; and Cmdr. Alan Belovarac, of Erie.

Guests gathered indoors for the silent auction and dance music as well as at outdoor grazing stations in the plaza area where the ship is docked. There were four large refreshment tents and a fifth one at the end of the pier where the U.S. Navy Band performed.

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Meg Loncharic: Mariner's Ball a huge success

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June 10th, 2012 at 5:16 am

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