News from our National Parks DECEMBER 2009
December Events in our National Parks, Memorials, National Historical Sites, etc.
— California —
Winter Solstice Guest Artist Show and Sale
(California) — On Sunday, December 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., join the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area for a full day of hand-crafted art, music, storytelling, and family fun. Purchase beautiful and unique Native American art for the holidays and meet local artists.
All ages are welcome. The event will be held at the scenic Satwiwa Culture Center.
Yosemite Christmas Bird Count
(California) — Attend the Yosemite Christmas Bird Count on December 20, 2009, with binoculars ready to locate avian diversity. In 2008, participants identified 3,028 birds of 65 species. To register, please contact the park’s ornithologist by e-mail at email@example.com.
(California) — Yosemite has set forth to document its lichen flora, which have never been comprehensively surveyed in the park. There are probably more than 500 lichen species in the park, but prior to the Yosemite Unknown Flora project, fewer than 100 were known. In September 2009, as part of Yosemite’s first Lichen Blitz, 10 leading lichen taxonomists from Austria, Germany, Sweden, and the United States helped National Park Service botanists document lichens in a wide range of interesting habits. Please see http://www.nps.gov/yose/naturescience/lichen.htm.
YosemiteScience on Twitter
(California) — In 2009, Yosemite National Park launched a Twitter site called YosemiteScience that contributes daily postings from the park’s Resources Management & Science Division. Topics include archeology, air quality, vegetation, wildlife management, and fire management. In three months from its start, the site garnered more than 300 visitors. This is one of two official Yosemite Twitter sites. Access the site at http://twitter.com/YosemiteScience.
— Colorado —
Holiday Celebration at Bent’s Old Fort
(Colorado) — At Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, December 4 to 5, witness the joys, pleasures, and pastimes of the 1840s at an isolated trading post. The spirit of the season comes alive with wagon rides, games, toy making, and other holiday festivities. The event begins with candlelight tours of the fort on Friday evening, December 4 and continues through Saturday, December 5 to culminate in another evening of candlelight tours. For reservations for the candlelight tours, please call 719-383-5026. For more information please visit www.nps.gov/beol.
— Florida —
Groundbreaking for Tamiami Trail Bridge Project
(Florida) — A groundbreaking ceremony for the Tamiami Trail Bridge Project will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, December 4, 2009. The project includes a one-mile bridge and other roadway modifications that will allow increased water flows to Everglades National Park. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District is constructing the project. Partners include the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the State of Florida, and the South Florida Water Management District. The groundbreaking ceremony, expected to last one hour, will be held at the S-334/356 structure on the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) in Miami-Dade County. Invited speakers include DOI Secretary Ken Salazar and other representatives of the federal and state governments.
For information online, please visit http://www.evergladesplan.org/ or http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/ and click “Tamiami Trail” on the right.
Biscayne Gears Up for 10th Anniversary Season of Family Fun Fest
(Florida) — The 10th season of Biscayne National Park’s popular Family Fun Fest series kicks off Sunday, December 13, 2009, at the park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center. The event is free and takes place from 1 to 4 p.m.
on the second Sunday of every month from December through April, with this year’s Family Fun Fest starting one month earlier than the festivities of the previous nine years. Every month, participants receive a passport to get punched as they complete each of five activities on the grounds around the Dante Fascell Visitor Center. Activities include games, science experiments, presentations, and craft projects. After collecting all five punches, children earn a specially designed button to remember the day’s lessons. Each Family Fun Fest event focuses on a particular theme. The 2009-2010 season will feature “Our Changing World” (December 13), “America’s Best Idea” (January 10), “BioBlitz: For the Love of Diversity”
(February 14), “Liter-a-Sea: Oceans of Knowledge” (March 14), and “The Best Family Fun Fest EVER!!” (April 11). In “The Best Family Fun Fest EVER,”
the park will bring back the best activities from the past decade, as determined by participants’ nominations and votes.
Visitor Center Gallery Features Hanging Out in Biscayne National Park
(Florida) — Through February 15, 2010, the Dante Fascell Visitor Center Gallery at Biscayne National Park will display Hanging Out in Biscayne National Park, an exhibition of photographs by Miami’s Brian Trainor.
Trainor, who has practiced photography for almost 30 years, will look at the national park from an unexpected angle or will capture a subject such as debris on the park’s shore. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
— Iowa —
Celebrate “A Christmas Past” in West Branch, Iowa
(Iowa) — West Branch, Iowa, the birthplace of Herbert Hoover, will host events for “A Christmas Past” from Friday, December 4 until Sunday, December 6. Main Street West Branch will start the celebration with a tree lighting ceremony as the West Branch High School Choir sings on the Village Green at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 4. On Friday and Saturday evenings, horse-drawn wagon rides start at 5:30 p.m. from the visitor center of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. The last wagon rides begin at 8 p.m. The Herbert Hoover Birthplace Cottage, Blacksmith Shop, Schoolhouse, and Friends Meetinghouse will be open to visitors on Friday and Saturday nights until 8:30 p.m. Living history interpreters will lead ornament-making activities at the visitor center from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum displays Christmas trees in its annual holiday exhibit, which this year features 20 decorated trees based on the life and travels of Herbert Hoover. Free weekend performances at the presidential library and museum include stage presentations by The Young Footliters and Christmas carols by the Uncalled Four quartet and the West Branch Community Choir. On Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m., the presidential library and museum will hold its Holiday Open House, featuring refreshments and visits with Santa Claus and Aunt Holly.
— Louisiana —
Holiday Open House at Jean Lafitte
(Louisiana) — The Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (www.nps.gov/jela) will host its annual holiday open house, with music from local choirs, demonstrations by local artists and artisans, and hands-on holiday crafts, from 6 to 8 p.m.
on Friday, December 4. Upstairs from the center, in the town library, there will be more crafts, holiday treats, and Santa Claus himself. Free.
Holidays in South Louisiana
(Louisiana) — Celebrate the holidays south-Louisiana style at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (www.nps.gov/jela). It’s an 1800s holiday at the historic Malus-Beauregard House at Chalmette Battlefield.
The 1830s-era home will come to life with period furnishings, holiday decorations, and living history experts portraying the families who lived there. Visitors can join the fun by making traditional decorations for the house’s Christmas tree and their own homes. This event is free and runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, December 12 & 13.
— Maryland —
Cultural Holiday Festival at Oxon Hill Farm
(Maryland) — The National Park Service will host a cultural holiday festival for the entire family at Oxon Hill Farm, located in Oxon Cove Park, on Sunday, December 6, 2009, from noon to 3 p.m. This year’s festival will feature living history presentations by interpreters representing African, Native American, and European cultures that influenced the area. Interpreters will demonstrate spinning wool into yarn for practical gifts such as gloves and hats. There will be an African American quilt on display, a Piscataway Indian exhibit, music performed by the Bishop McNamara Madrigals, light refreshments, and activities featuring arts and crafts. Visitors can ride in a horse-drawn wagon, participate in cider pressing and 19th-century parlor games, and listen to storytelling and music. The National Children’s Museum staff will coordinate activities for children.
Choregraphie Antique at Hampton National Historic Site
(Maryland) — During the holiday season, the Ridgely family would have attended and hosted many parties, dances, and balls. The Great Hall at Hampton Mansion, which lent itself to dancing, was especially suited for the line dances that were popular during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Witness 19th-century dancing on Sunday, December 20, 2009, at 2 p.m. in the Orangery. This special performance by Choregraphie Antique, the dance history ensemble of Goucher College, will feature dances from the Regency period (1800-1825). Audience members should come prepared to dust off their dancing shoes, as the costumed dancers of Choregraphie Antique encourage audience participation. For more information, contact Kirby Shedlowski at 410-823-1309 ext. 251.
— Massachusetts —
The Meaning and Legacy of John Brown: A Talk by Author John Stauffer on the 150th Anniversary of Brown’s Execution
(Massachusetts) — John Brown’s raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry and subsequent execution on December 2, 1859, galvanized the nation.
Abolitionists celebrated him as a martyr to the anti-slavery cause, while some whites formed militias to guard against slave uprisings of the kind he had hoped to foment. On the 150th anniversary of Brown’s execution, award-winning author and Harvard professor John Stauffer will discuss the meaning and legacy of John Brown in his own time and in ours. His talk will take place on Wednesday, December 2, 2009, at 6 p.m. in the Abiel Smith School Gallery of the Museum of African American History. The talk is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information on Boston African American National Historic Site, please visit www.nps.gov/boaf. For more information on the Museum of African American History, please visit http://www.maah.org/.
Pearl Harbor Survivors and Friends Memorial Service at Boston NHP
(Massachusetts) — Boston National Historical Park will host a memorial service on the fantail of the World War II destroyer USS Cassin Young in the Charlestown Navy Yard on Monday, December 7, 2009, from 12:30 to 1 p.m.
The service will commemorate the 1941 surprise attack by the Japanese on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. For more information on Boston National Historical Park, please visit www.nps.gov/bost.
— Mississippi —
Stellar December Programs at Gulf Islands National Seashore
(Mississippi) — On Friday, December 11 and Saturday, December 12, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., visitors can spend time looking upward during the “Wonders of the Night Sky” program. The constellations of Orion, Taurus, Canis Major, and the Gemini twins should all be visible, along with deep space objects. Astronomers and telescopes from Pontchartrain Astronomy Society will set up at the campground amphitheater. On Sunday, December 13, at 2 p.m., join astronomer Jack Huerkamp for “The Telescope as a Time Machine.”
Astronomy is history. Because light takes time to travel from one place to another, we see objects not as they are now but as they were at the time when they released the light that has traveled to us. This program will explore the universe and is geared towards grade school children. Meet at the William M. Colmer Visitor Center. Web: http://www.nps.gov/guis/
— New York —
Events at Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites (New York) — On Saturday, December 5, 2009, there will be holiday open houses at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site (Val-Kill). The open house at the Home of FDR runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be free guided tours all day, on which visitors can see Christmas traditions of the Roosevelt family. From 2 to 4 p.m., FDR will read passages from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Val-Kill will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. Free evening tours will be offered of the special place where Eleanor Roosevelt shared her favorite holiday. Visitors can enjoy music and refreshments at the Stone Cottage courtesy of the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historical Association.
At the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center, from noon to 5 p.m.
on Saturday, December 5, 2009, visitors can attend the fourth annual Children’s Reading Festival, with talks and book signings presented by the FDR Presidential Library, the National Park Service, and Teaching the Hudson Valley. There will be free refreshments and activities, including photos with Santa, holiday cards for the troops, and music by Dog on Fleas.
Please call 845-486-7745 for a schedule. Also on December 5, the FDR Presidential Library and Museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., decorated and free all day. Finally, on Saturday, December 12, the Vanderbilt Mansion will hold an open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission will be free. For more information, please contact the National Park Service at 845-229-9115.
Holiday Concert to Feature Historic Pipe Organ at St. Paul’s Church (New York) — Dr. Jan Piet Knijff will perform classical music, including some traditional carols and holiday favorites, on the historic 1833 pipe organ in St. Paul’s Church at 2 p.m. on December 20.
Usher in the Holidays Traditionally
(New York) — Children of all ages are invited to a family holiday program at St. Paul’s Church from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on December 22, 23, 26, 29, and 31. The program will feature historic games, activities, music, and demonstrations that reflect how colonial and Revolutionary War-era families would have entertained themselves during the holidays. This special holiday offering by St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site is designed for children on vacation from school as well as for adults. For more information, please contact Mindi Rambo at 212-668-2208.
Celebrate Kwanzaa at African Burial Ground (New York) — Kwanzaa, based on the Nguzo Saba (seven guiding principles), honors African heritage and is celebrated from December 26 to January 1.
On December 29, African Burial Ground National Monument will hold a Kwanzaa celebration from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Web: www.nps.gov/afbg/
— Ohio —
Fifth Annual CVNPA Bids for Kids Online Auction
(Ohio) — Join Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association (CVNPA) for the fifth annual CVNPA Bids for Kids Online Auction. You can purchase holiday gifts while supporting environmental education. All proceeds of Bids for Kids will go to benefit urban school children through scholarship and educational programs at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center (CVEEC). The online auction begins Friday, November 20, 2009, at 9 a.m.
and continues through Monday, December 7, 2009, at 8 p.m. You can get involved by donating an item, asking local businesses to donate items, becoming an auction sponsor, and bidding high and often. For more information, please contact Lisa Meranti at 330-657-2909 ext. 136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Year’s Open House at Taft Birthplace
(Ohio) — William Howard Taft National Historic Site will bring the holiday season to a close on Sunday, January 3, when the Friends of the William Howard Taft Birthplace host the annual New Year’s Open House. From noon to
4 p.m., the public is invited to visit the house and enjoy holiday refreshments, just as the guests to the Taft house would have done in the 1850s at the birthplace of the nation’s 27th president. During the traditional Taft open house, William Howard’s parents would receive callers and serve cake and chocolate. The event is free and begins at the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. Web: www.nps.gov/wiho/
— Texas —
LBJ Boyhood Home by Lamplight
(Texas) — On December 5, 12, and 19, visitors can take lamplight tours of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Boyhood Home in Johnson City. Prior to the arrival of electricity, Christmas was celebrated with the use of lamplight. Web: www.nps.gov/lyjo/
— Washington, D.C. —
Celebrate a Victorian Holiday at the Frederick Douglass NHS (Washington, D.C.) — Join the National Park Service on Saturday, December
19 at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
to celebrate a Victorian holiday at historic Cedar Hill. Visitors can step back in time to experience how Frederick Douglass and his family celebrated Christmas. Children of all ages can enjoy craft workshops, create Victorian holiday greeting cards, and sing old-fashioned Christmas carols.
The program is free and open to the public.
Oratorical Contest at Frederick Douglass NHS (Washington, D.C.) — The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site will hold its annual oratorical contest December 3 through 5, 2009. In this competition for students throughout the nation in elementary, junior high, and senior high school, participants will memorize and deliver a speech by abolitionist, orator, and statesman Frederick Douglass. Prizes will be awarded for the top contestant in each category. Web: www.nps.gov/frdo/
NPS Commemorates 134th Birthday of Dr. Carter G. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) — The National Park Service will commemorate the 134th anniversary of the birthday of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the second African American to graduate from Harvard University with a Ph.D. in history, on Saturday, December 19, 2009, at 6 p.m. The commemoration will take place at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., located at 801 K Street, NW, at Mount Vernon Square. The program will feature a tribute to Dr. Woodson with remarks by National Park Service officials and Dr. John Fleming, president of the Association for the Study of African Life and History, which Dr. Woodson founded. A holiday reception will follow the program.
For more information, please contact Robert Parker at 202-673-2402.
— West Virginia —
Prospects of Peace: A Soldier’s Prayer
(West Virginia) — Visitors are invited to join this special program at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park on December 5 and 6, 2009, in the Lower Town District. The program focuses on Yuletide 1864, when soldiers at Harpers Ferry attempted to create their own version of Christmas at the front while recalling happier ones at home. With Abraham Lincoln re-elected, the nation looked toward a new year, the conclusion of war, prospects of peace, and freedom for four million enslaved African Americans. Programs and activities will feature local citizens and soldiers preparing for the Yuletide, a Civil-War-style Santa Claus dispersing presents to the soldiers, a Victorian Cotillion, Yuletide confections, and special guided walking tours. Activities on Saturday noon to 9 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Web: www.nps.gov/hafe/