Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 51
 
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
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Patriots’ Week Marks Trenton’s Pivotal Role With Largest Revolutionary War Festival

Linda Arntzenius

Patriots’ Week, the celebration of Trenton’s role in the American Revolution held annually the week between Christmas and New Year’s, will bring visitors to the city to enjoy art, music, literature, battlefield re-enactments, and living history events.

Patriot’s Week will feature reenactments of the battles of Trenton, celebratory dinners, a Colonial ball, and performances of period songs of love, war, and holiday cheer.

While commemorating events that historians describe as pivotal to the course of the Revolutionary War, Patriots’ Week aims to promote cultural tourism in Trenton. It’s the cornerstone of the Trenton Downtown Association’s (TDA) tourism initiative.

From December 26 to December 31, the non-profit TDA will coordinate the largest Revolutionary War festival in America.

Over 50 events include lectures, puppet shows and other kids activities, Colonial teas, walking tours, bus tours, a Colonial church service, movies, art shows, sword fights, historical interpretations, and a concert on an instrument designed by Ben Franklin and rumored to drive men mad.

“Last year, some 4300 people attended and we hope to see at least 10 percent more this year,” said Eric Maywar, who spearheads the event for the second time as Patriots’ Week manager for the TDA. “My goal has been to expand programming beyond the core historical reenactments.”

Last year saw an increase in the number of programs for children. This year, the number of partner organizations has been increased to include the Valley Forge National Historic Park, the Princeton Battlefield Society, the Lawrenceville Department of Recreation, the Trenton Quaker Meeting House, and the New Jersey Network (NJN), which has held the release of a documentary it produced some 10 months ago to coincide with Patriots’ Week. Ten Crucial Days: The Road to Liberty, will be screened in NJN’s Trenton Studios, 25 South Stockton Street, on Thursday, December 27, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The film follows the Continental Army as it crosses the icy Delaware River in Durham boats for a night march through sleet and rain to Trenton for a surprise attack on the Hessians — the strategic move that proved to be the turning point of the Revolutionary War. For reservations, call (800) 882-6622, or visit: www.njn.net.

For those who can’t make the screening, the program will air on NJN Tuesday, December 25, at 8 p.m. and Friday, December 28, at 9:30 pm.

Immersion Events

One of Mr. Maywar’s personal favorites among the events is the Colonial Ball, which drew some 200 visitors last year. Even more are expected to attend this year’s free event on Friday, December 29, from 8 to 10 p.m. in the Masonic Temple, Front and Barrack Streets. “We are not imposing a limit on the number of participants but we are moving -tables out of the dancing area to make room for even more dancers. It’s an ‘immersion’ event that appeals to a lot of people,” he said.

Another “immersion” event will take place at the First Presbyterian Church, 120 East State Street, on Sunday, December 30, between 10 a.m. and noon, when Pastor John Allen leads a colonial era worship service and delivers a revolutionary period sermon in the role of Elihu Spencer who was pastor of the church before the American Revolution. “Regular members of the church’s congregation might be surprised by this new event,” said Mr. Maywar, whose wife Donna is from Trenton. A native of Michigan, he has lived in Trenton for four years and in the area for over a decade.

Also new this year at the Church will be the recreation of a colonial tavern in the Fellowship Hall on Thursday, December 27, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in order to raise funds for the church’s 1807 bell. A candlelit dinner at the aptly named “Sign of the Dove” will include tavern food and period music for a $20 donation. For reservations, call (609) 396-1712.

Patriots’ Week

A public reading of Thomas Paine’s essay, “The American Crisis,” which opens with the words: “These are the times that try men’s souls,” forms the traditional kick-off to Patriots’ Week on Wednesday, December 26, from 10:30 to 11 a.m. in the Old Barracks Courtyard, Front and Barrack Streets. Written shortly before the Battle of Trenton, Paine’s words rallied Americans to the Revolutionary cause.

Special performances at the Old Barracks Museum include 18th-century music from John Burkehalter and the Practitioners of Musick on Wednesday, December 26, at 6 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. Admission is $20 and reservations are required.

On Thursday, December 27, “The Music of Ben Franklin: The Glass Armonica” features armonica virtuoso Cecilia Brauer in performance at 6 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. A Madeira, claret, and cheese reception is included in the $30 admission and reservations are required. For more information and reservations, call (609) 396-1776 for all reservations.

Historical interpreter and tea enthusiast Stacy Roth will again present a program on the history of tea this year, on Monday, December 31, from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Old Barracks Museum. Ms. Roth’s costumed presentation features tea lore, history, songs, poetry, as well as a cup of tea and a sweet treat, for which you are advised to bring along your own genteel tea cup, saucer, spoon, and small plate. Reservations are suggested and admission is $15 per person (online from www.patriotsweek.com or by phone: 1-877-PAT-WEEK).

Highlights of the rest of the week’s activities include a public reading of The Declaration of Independence on Friday, December 28, from 9 to 9:30 a.m., in front of The Declaration Mural at 23 S. Warren Street, the large outdoor mural depicting the first public reading of the Declaration, which will be read by an actor from the American Historical Theatre in the role of Thomas Jefferson.

On Saturday, December 29, from 11 a.m. to noon, a reenactment of the First Battle of Trenton will begin at the Battle Monument and proceed down Warren Street to a final skirmish in Mill Hill Park. After a break for lunch, from noon until 1 p.m., a reenactment of the Second Battle of Trenton will take place from 3 to 4 p.m.

Patriot’s Week runs from Tuesday, December 26 through Sunday, December 31. For a complete schedule of events, call (877) 728-9335, or visit www.patriotsweek.com.

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