For the first year Fort Ticonderoga is providing a unique experience with “Hot Chocolate at a Cold Fort.” On December 3, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Fort Ticonderoga will have a special opening allowing guests to witness how soldiers celebrated Christmas in 1776.
One way to snap children out of their glassy-eyed “I wants” from the onslaught of daily catalog deliveries is to experience an 18th century Christmas celebration at Fort Ticonderoga.
There will be opportunities to learn of past traditions and the winter hardships of limited resources. Fort Ticonderoga is only open during the winter months on special occasions, so this will be an interesting treat.
Stuart Lilie, Fort Ticonderoga Director of Interpretation says, “We hope this event will demonstrate how people were celebrating Christmas in 1776. On a basic level the goal is to show what the solders’ lives were like during the American Revolution to how we celebrate Christmas now.”
“At that time people did not have all the traditions that we have now. I think that true comfort of Christmas at that time and the other saint’s holidays was the camaraderie with the people around them,” says Lilie. “It was enjoying a simple meal that was perhaps better than they were used to. It was something as simple as a nice cut of meat. There was more focus on those around them. The simplicity.”
The event starts with a tour of the historic fort and will make use of re-enactors portraying Colonel Anthony Wayne’s Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion. The English and Dutch Christmas traditions of these Pennsylvania soldiers will be demonstrated. Colonel Wayne’s soldiers will also work around the mess hall to make hot meals for the officers, the sick and to try to find ways to feed the rest of the battalion.
Museum Curator of Collections, Christopher Fox will be on hand for the tour of “The Art of War: Ticonderoga as Experience through the Eyes of America’s Great Artists” exhibit. This exhibits brings together 50 of the museum’s most important artworks with works including Thomas Cole’s “Gelyna.”
The fort tour will attempt to tackle such issues as shortage of clothing, medicine and how the long transportation from Albany, at the time, was an overwhelming challenge. Through it all the soldiers manage to make a festive gathering with very little.
Of course there will be a musket demonstration, as those soldiers need practice in case of a winter raid. There will be an opportunity to see how muskets work and learn how they were the main weapons during Colonel Wayne’s command.
So with a bit of history and a fun day at the fort we can witness how the Fort Ticonderoga soldiers appreciated what they had in a cold winter in 1776.
Throughout the weekend there will also be the 2nd annual Ticonderoga North Country Christmas with other children’s activities throughout the weekend.
Photo by Diane Chase.
Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates), the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next book Adirondack Family Time Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga will in stores summer 2012.