Monday, December 16, 2013

Candlelight Stroll 2013

Family Parlor in Goodwin Mansion
This past weekend was the second weekend of Strawbery Banke Museum’s Candlelight Stroll. This is the Big Event for me in my position of Manager of Special Events. The month leading up to this past weekend, and the last couple weeks in particular have been hellishly stressful, but the weekends went off beautifully. Yes, the first hour of the first Saturday was spent running around fixing all the things, and there was a bunch of stuff that I wanted to do that did not get done in time. But visitors seemed to have a good time, I got some compliments, and only the nit-pickers found anything to complain about.

So Candlelight Stroll is big.

Eight of the museum’s houses are set up how they would have looked in December, in eight different time periods. That means 8 different research bases, 8 different stories to tell, 8 different sets of costumes, music, food, everything. Oh, and eight different sets of decorations made from local botanicals in historically appropriate designs. Every house is full of light, and role players, and activity.

Then there are the demonstration and exhibit houses. During regular museum open hours there are demos of: Hearth cooking, weaving, pottery, coppering, and blacksmithing. This past weekend those were joined by: windsor chair making, tin smithing, and basket making. Then there was all the food: the museum has a new cafe, plus this year we served booze in the 1777 tavern, free hot cider and cookies, and museum members got their own food-filled reception.

Then there was all the live music. Local choruses singing carols, piano music in the Visitor Center, bands in the Cider Shed, Roving guitarists. And puppet shows, and wandering role-players, and a kid’s treasure hunt, and Saint Nick handing out candy, and horse-drawn carriage rides, and hands on crafts...

Yes, I am in charge of all of that.

I get a ton of help from the Horticulture Department, Curatorial, Education, Development, heck, every department. This is by no means a one-woman-show. But ultimately if it falls apart or succeeds I am the one responsible.

Making magic like this event, I absolutely love that. I love that visitors have a magical-non-commercial experience. I love creating safe, celebratory experiences that have a ton of really rich history thrown in.

But I really missed role playing. I was not in historical costume, I was not personally bringing the past to life. I got to hire a bunch of really talented people to do it, and that was definitely satisfying, but not the same.
Peek in the door to Rider-Wood
I’m looking forward to next weekend, when we get to do it all over again for the final time this year, and I’m looking forward to the next time I get to dress up, even if it won’t be for a while.

1 comment:

  1. The idea of putting such a display/presentation on is awesome, though to not be a part (in period clothing) can be a bit frustrating. But given that both "jobs" are something you love makes it all worthwhile.
    Congratulations on a job well done. I look forward to seeing m,ore photos.