THE GHOSTS OF CHARACTERS PAST IN WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA
This year, Colonial Williamsburg, the restored 18th-century capital of colonial Virginia and our nation's largest living history museum, celebrates its 75th anniversary and invites visitors to reawaken their patriotic spirits by exploring the social, political and family life of a country, and city, on the eve of revolution.
Visitors will step into the year 1774 to interact with Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and George Washington, and learn how and why these and other patriots unified a nation and demanded independence. Those who duck into shops will find themselves drawn into lively discussion with costumed shoemakers, silversmiths and wigmakers who ply their trades and wag their tongues as they did more than 225 years ago.
Colonial Williamsburg's renowned Historic Area buzzes with six story threads: slavery, religious freedom, family life, commerce and trade, land acquisition and revolution. New programs in 2002 include: "About Town," a walking tour escorted by iconic figures such as Thomas Jefferson and Martha Washington, who conjure the zeitgeist of a capital crackling with restive energy; "Talk of the Town," in which a gallery of colonial characters imparts a "first-hand" introduction to the pulse of the community and nation in 1774; and "Among the Dipping Gourds", a multi-day series that tells of the singular struggles--both public and private--of free and enslaved black men and women.
This year's weekly events roster includes trials at the Courthouse of 1770; dissolution of the House of Burgesses and retreat to the Raleigh Tavern to deliberate; a star-crossed 18th-century love story; and deliberation and unrest among the members of the Bruton Parish Church.
When evening falls, the 18th century emerges in all its candlelit charm. Balladeers' music issues from authentic colonial taverns such as King's Arms, Shields, Christiana Campbell's and Josiah Chowning's, where 21st-century diners savor the kind of repasts patriots ordered as they quaffed ale and contemplated revolution.
Guests wishing to slumber where our forefathers once did can retire to one of Colonial Houses' 77 guestrooms in former taverns, tenements, kitchens, laundries, offices, shops and slave quarters. Those lured by more sumptuous surroundings will repair to the splendor and comfort of The Williamsburg Inn, the crown jewel in the Colonial Williamsburg Hotels' collection of five properties. Founded by John D. Rockefeller Jr., the Inn opened in 1937 and has since welcomed royalty, heads of state and celebrities from all over the world, including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Sir Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Shirley Temple and Bill Cosby. In 1983, the inn was the site of the historic International Summit of Industrialized Nations hosted by then-President Ronald Reagan. In 2001, it was meticulously restored and upgraded with painstaking research to preserve authenticity.
This year, for the third consecutive holiday season, the inn will welcome Gerald Charles Dickens, the celebrated author's great-great-grandson, to perform his captivating one-man show, "A Christmas Carol." Dickens' devotees will delight in two spirited performances Wednesday, December 11, and Thursday, December 12.
RESURRECTING A NATION'S ROOTS
Just minutes from Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement bids contemporary pilgrims to explore the world of Pocahontas and America's first permanent English colonists in re-creations of a Powhatan Indian village and palisaded colonial fort, and aboard replicas of one of three ships that sailed to Virginia in 1607. At the nearby Yorktown Victory Center, the sights and sounds of the American Revolution come alive in re-creations of a 1780s Tidewater farm and Continental Army encampment. October 19-20, "Yorktown Victory Celebration" commemorates the 221st anniversary of America's momentous victory there with military reenactments, tactical demonstrations and interactive activities. …