Freedom's Birth: An American Experience

June 27, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

"Freedom's Birth: An American Experience" will celebrate Independence Day at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., Saturday, June 29.

There will be fireworks, of course - America's traditional way of celebrating the anniversary of its Declaration of Independence.

But the day's activities will start long before nightfall and will honor more than the country's July 4, 1776, statement of freedom.

Like America, the day's schedule is a melting pot - bringing together pieces of the country's history.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass (re-enactors) will speak. At 5:30 p.m., the actors representing these historical figures will come together for "The Meeting of the Minds," a discussion followed by question and answer session.


The day is the result of a well-received five-day observance of the National Park's 50th anniversary in 1994. A one-day celebration has been held since, and part of the event's uniqueness is its offering of nontraditional types of entertainment, says Todd Bolton, branch chief, visitor services at the park.

The Civil War obviously had a huge significance in Harpers Ferry's history, Bolton says.

That time will be represented by performances by the Wildcat Regiment Band, a 24-member re-creation of the original Wildcat Band that served the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry from September 1861 until August 1862.

Saturday, June 29

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Directions from Hagerstown: Take U.S. Alternate 40 south to Boonsboro. Take right onto Md. 67 west to U.S. 340 south toward Harpers Ferry. Park entrance is off U.S. 340.

No entrance fee will be charged for this event. Parking will be available at the Cavalier Heights Visitor Center through the day. Parking will be available at Bolivar Heights beginning at 4:30 p.m. Visitors will be shuttled to the park. No parking after 8:30 p.m. No parking will be allowed along the shoulder of U.S. 340 or on Washington Street or Whitman Avenue.

Personal fireworks, including sparklers, are not allowed in the park.

Bring blankets or lawn chairs if you plan to attend the fireworks display, slated to begin at 9:45 p.m.


8 a.m. - Park opens

11 a.m. - Wildcat Regiment Band 19th century music concert, Arsenal Square

From 11:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. on Hamilton Street: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Frederick Douglass

2:30 p.m. - Wildcat Regiment Band 19th century music concert, Arsenal Square

5 p.m. - Harpers Ferry's significance during the Civil War. Bolivar Heights Battlefield

5:30 p.m. - "The Meeting of the Minds: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln," Visitor Center

7 p.m. - Howard Burns Quartet, Visitor Center

8 p.m. - Joe Wilder and Benny Powell, Jane Jarvis, Visitor Center

8:30 p.m. - Wildcat Regiment Band, Bolivar Heights Battlefield Stage

9:45 p.m. - Fireworks Finale, Bolivar and Cavalier Heights

For information, call 1-304-535-6298 or go to on the Web

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