Costumed kids treated to local history lesson

October 30, 2005|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Halloween combined with history Saturday as children competed in a historical character costume contest at the Heritage Center on Chambersburg's Memorial Square.

Trick-or-Treat on Main Street organizers suggested that contestants dress as a historic personality from Franklin County's past or fashion a costume based on one of the center's five themes - Frontier, Architecture, the Civil War, Underground Railroad or Transportation.

But the children weren't the only ones in costumes, and organizers managed to slip a bit of a history lesson into the festivities.


Several presenters dressed in period clothing were stationed at various places in the Heritage Center and gave brief talks about their place in Chambersburg history.

Will Pananes, dressed as frontiersman James Chambers, son of town founder Benjamin Chambers, popped out from behind an exhibit carrying a long rifle and told the children about walking 450 miles to Boston to support Gen. George Washington's troops.

Frances Humelsine sat in a rocking chair in the vault and portrayed Sarah Wilson. Although she had no formal education herself, Wilson founded Wilson College in Chambersburg.

Kelly Miller of Chambersburg brought her 2-year-old son, James, dressed as a pumpkin complete with orange makeup. When asked what trick-or-treating is, James replied, "Goodies." Contest judges called his costume "a Franklin County frontier pumpkin" and awarded it Best Overall honors in the children's division.

Rebecca Salisbury, 14, wore a blue gown and a crocheted snood to portray a Civil War-era woman. She was not a specific historical person, she explained, but was representative of the era.

The J. Frank Faust Junior High School ninth-grader said she recently has started studying the Civil War period. She will combine her interest in history with her aptitude for sewing next spring, when she will have an apprenticeship at the Highland Rose, a shop in Gettysburg, Pa., that constructs authentic period clothing. The shop made her costume, which took Best Overall honors in the older children's division.

Rebecca's costume was so authentic that she wore "layers and layers" under it, including a corset, she said. "It's not laced as tightly as it should be" to be truly authentic, she added.

According to her mother, Stephanie Salisbury, Rebecca saves her money for additions to her 1860s wardrobe.

Rebecca said that on visits to relatives in Gettysburg, she would visit the downtown shops, many of which have a Civil War theme, and became interested in that period of history.

John and Tracy Buchheister of Shippensburg, Pa., own The Maryland Sutler, which makes Civil War uniforms and gear for re-enactors. They brought their son, Kyle, 2, to the event dressed as a drummer boy, complete with authentic hat, canteen and drum. His costume was named Most Historically Accurate. His 12-day-old sister, Erica Shiloh, also attended.

Sponsored by the Downtown Business Council, the event also included trick-or-treating at stores along Main Street for younger children.

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