Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guess What we got to do during the big CW Secret

Monday night during dinner, I asked my husband, "Guess what is going to happen in Colonial Williamsburg tomorrow?" He laughed and asked, "What?" "I don't know," I sighed. "It's a big secret. A once in a lifetime event is happening during Revolutionary City tomorrow." He told me that as long as I came home again, to go on down. So the kids and I drove down for the day!

Being that this is Colonial Williamsburg's Spy Week, it was fun looking for all the clues I could to figure out what was going on. We saw many clues, but two different ladies who lived in Williamsburg blurted out the big secret, spoiling all our fun. That was a shame considering that CW went to such pains to keep this a secret. Later one of the employees asked me how in the world I knew to come down for the secret, because she had no idea until she came to work today. Well, I am not going to be a party pooper and tell you the secret. Perhaps you already know the secret. If so, hopefully I can describe the event well enough to help you imagine what happened, or at least help you to relive it!

Today, four key scenes of Revolutionary City were portrayed. Not all of my pictures took well. Also the crowds were so PRODIGIOUS, that I was not capable of taking many pictures. Hopefully the photos I do have and my verbal description will help you to imagine. Paramount to understanding the SECRET, is understanding that Revolutionary City is about involving the crowd. RC is not your typical theater where the guests sit back and watch a performance. Oh no. RC is about the guests being transported in time, to the 18th century, to BECOME the citizens of 18th century Williamsburg, yelling "huzzahs" when they are pleased and "boisterously booing" when displeased. For instance...

The leisurely gait of horse's hooves transported us to 1774. Col. George Washington himself passed us by in his riding chair, acknowledging us with a stoic nod of his head. Then we were able to eavesdrop on his conversation with one of the burgesses.
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We overheard this man complain, complain, complain about the relations with the other colonies and Britain.
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With the clip clop of trotting horses and the creaky rolling of carriage wheels, we were transported to 1765.
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Eighteenth century gentleman came out from our midst and before long, they formed an angry mob protesting the Stamp Act!
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From there the scene moved to the Capitol where the Royal Governor announced he had disbanded the House of Burgesses. Angered by this news, we booed him, yet cheered Patrick Henry who fired us up!

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From there we walked to the Raleigh Tavern. Horse's hooves galloped through the busy town, transporting us to April 29, 1775, with news of the Battles of Lexington and Concord! After angry discourse and restrained reasoning, Mann Page galloped away while Peyton Randolph prepared for travel to Philadelphia to serve as president of the Continental Congress.

An irate 18th century gentleman angrily stormed through our part of the crowd, testily yelling, "Move out of the way!, transporting us to Sept 3, 1775. The angry and far too vocal Mr. Hardcastle had spoken a few too many unpatriotic words in the tavern, prompting a quick tribunal (comprised of men from the crowd-only men could judge in the 18th century) declaring him guilty and unanimously agreeing to tar and feather him! The drastic physical act of dragging him through the scattering crowd to tie him up, resulting in a quick confession. He was released after he promised to no longer provoke ill will towards the patriot cause.

The beating of drums and the whistling of fifes transported us to July 25, 1776, for the public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Throughout the massive crowd, 18th century people stood on tree stumps so we could see them voice their part in reciting the infamous words of the Declaration of Indepence, allowing us to become part of the reading of our document of our country.

After the reading, somewhere in the crowd, across the street near the King's Arm Tavern, we heard a few men singing the first verse of "God Save George Washington." Then some ladies standing closer to the tavern lifted their voices to join the men.
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Like waves of the ocean flowing onto the shore, came melodic voices from throughout the crowd. With each line of "God Save George Washington," came another handful of incredibly talented voices, adding to the mix of bass, tenor, alto and soprano. Crystal clear trained voices. The singing spread as if in a massive circle and definitely was mixed throughout the crowd. I could not find the source. No one in costume appeared to be singing. Who was singing so beautifully, so harmoniously, so patriotically?
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As ocean waves surge, so did patriotic emotions surge with the growing swell of harmonious voices spread throughout the crowd. The wave of patriotic voice was coming nearer to us, near the Raleigh Tavern.
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Then this man in the blue shirt, standing next to us, added his voice to the growing swell. Crystal clear, not miked, yet clearly ringing the bells of expressive, harmonious liberty, "God Save George Washington"...
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Then the lady in front of us added her clear soprano to the mix, melodically adding her voice to the nearly 400 member Mormon Tabernacle Choir that made us feel a part of their patriotic support of the American Revolution and the man who was "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."
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We were then invited to "become" part of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as we joined them in singing five stanzas of Yankee Doodle! There were choir members in front of me, to the right of me, to the left of me and behind me. We were surrounded! I have sung in choirs in the past, so I truely enjoyed this unique opportunity to add my tiny voice to such greatness and talent in one of my favorite places! Most people pay tickets and dress in "black tie" to watch a performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. How often do any of us get to stand in their midst, participating with them in glorious, patriotic song?

You can see and hear the program at this you tube video. I think this was done by one of the MTC people. CW also video taped and photographed the event, so hopefully those will show up soon!

I told the kids that their dad was going to be jealous wheen he finds out what the secret was. Indeed he was flabbergasted! My son has already told the music pastor at a nearby church (where there are choirs!) who lives next door.

We managed to fit in other patriotic things that day. We listened to more of the incredible Patrick Henry who claims great humility. Hmmm...

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We visited the milliner (more on that later.)

We enjoyed ice cream while listening to fife music, drawing many guests our way to ask, "Where did you get that ice cream?" Look behind Shield's Tavern!

We visited with Col. George Washington. Afterwards my son talked to him about earthworks. Then we talked to him about Senaca (whom we recently studied in school) and the play, "Cato". It was a great conversation and Col. Washington was quite pleased that the kids had read Senaca. He asked them what they thought of it and discoursed with them about their opinions. He richly added to our understanding of 18th century thought. I love talking to these great historians who help us understand history better.
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Disclaimer: My apologies for the ads, which HSB put on my blog. I don't mind the ones for Williamsburg though!

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