This year kick off your holiday season by rubbing elbows with the likes of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. At Colonial Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination, you can take part in an authentic 18th century celebration. Entertainment includes period-appropriate musicians, jugglers, madrigal singers, church choirs and the Fife and Drum Corps. Fireworks and candle-lighting are also part of the fun.
As always, you can wander the streets of this living, historic town and talk to its residents about politics and life on the eve of the Revolution. The Grand Illumination takes place on Dec. 5, 2000. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, located in Williamsburg, Va., call (800) 447-8679, or visit its site, <www.colonialwilliamsburg.org>, on the Web.
In Boston you can see some of America’s most important historic sites relating to the life and culture of free blacks before the Civil War. The Black Heritage Trail is a 1.6-mile walking tour through the historic neighborhood of Beacon Hill. Along the route are 14 historic sites, including the oldest standing black church in the United States and the first public school in the country for black children. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, guided tours are offered daily; reservations are necessary. For more information, contact The Museum of Afro American History, (617) 739-1200, or see <www.afroammuseum.org>.
RIDE THE RAILS
Experience transportation the way your 1g th-century relatives did on the Tarantula, a train powered by a fully restored 1896 steam locomotive. Affectionately referred to as “Puffy,” the engine pulls turn-of-the-century Victorian coaches and open-air patio cars (windows are installed in the winter). You can ride the train from historic Grapevine, Texas, to Fort Worth’s Stockyards Station. A one-way ride lasts a little over an hour. The Tarantula operates year-round, but for reservations or specific operating times call (800) 952-5717 or see <www.tarantulatrain.com> on the Web.
SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA
A Christmas Carol
Try your luck at the fast-paced card game whist or learn to dance mazurkas and waltzes at the Dickens Fair Reunion Ball in San Mateo, Calif The event is a re-creation of a Victorian-era ball complete with costumes, dancing and games. Most dances are taught or called, and you get the chance to mingle with the cast from the San Francisco Dickens Christmas Fair. Costumes are encouraged, but modern evening wear is an acceptable substitute. The event takes place on Dec. 11, 2000. For more information call The Period Events and Entertainment Re-Creation Society, (510) 522-1731, or visit their Web site, <www.peers.org>. To find a re-creation ball near you, check out the Web site <www.delanet.com/~mohring/ballroom.html>
WILD, WILD WEST
Got a cowpoke’s bootsteps in your background? Saddle up and head to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center for a taste of life on the Western frontier. Attractions include the Buffalo Bill, Plains Indian and Cody Firearms Museums; the Whitney Gallery of Western Art; and the McCrack-en Research Library. You can see everything from fine art and historical documents to a stagecoach and Indian artifacts. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center is located in Cody, Wyo., 52 miles from Yellowstone Park. For more information call (307) 587-4771.
If your family hails from the South, you won’t want to miss the Fair of 1850 at Westville in Lumpkin, Georgia. Westville is an 1850s living history museum that lets you experience life in the pre-industrial South. During the fair, you can learn how to operate a cotton gin and find out how syrup is made from sugar cane. Artisans will also demonstrate pottery making, candle dipping, woodworking and weaving. Musical performances feature traditional instruments. BUT HURRY: The fair runs only through Nov. 14, 2000. For more information call (888) 733-1850 or see <www.westville.org> on the Web.
From the January 2000 Family Tree Magazine