The National Monument is open! After seven weeks of being closed, Fort Frederica National Monument opened just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Tom and I kept working while we were closed, but it was odd not to see any people in the park or cars in the parking lot. Occasionally we would run across a family taking a walk on the nature trail.
Although Fort Frederica National Monument is open, the Visitors Center and restrooms are closed. We are only in Phase 1 reopening, which means the grounds are open but not the buildings. Because the #1 purpose of the Visitors Center is the restrooms, this poses a little bit of a problem. But, on the whole, people are being understanding.
Tom and I worked over Memorial Day weekend. We only found out we could open at 2 p.m. on Friday and all the staff had already planned the weekend off. Ranger Michael came in to supervise. Tom and I set out the information table and put up the flags. We also did some cleaning in the breezeway. It is amazing how much moss, pollen, and dirt can collect on things in just seven weeks.
We will not be doing any programming, at least until June. No tours or living history. They don’t usually do much living history in the summer anyway – too hot for the historical clothing. We have two new rangers: Ranger Casey is a seasonal ranger who started May 1, and Ranger Matt is the first new permanent interpretive ranger here in at least ten years. This is Ranger Casey’s second season here at Fort Frederica. Tom spent some time teaching them both blacksmithing this last week.
I anticipate we will continue doing projects as well as manning the information table. The biggest change, for Tom and me, is having to be at work from 8:45 until 5 every day. We got kind of used to showing up at 9 or 10 and leaving around 4. A normal work week for us here is 32 hours (four days), but I only averaged 28 hours a week during the seven weeks we were closed.
I am glad Fort Frederica National Monument is open again. Over the three days of Memorial Day weekend we had 1,000 visitors! We didn’t have any trouble maintaining social distancing or getting people to adhere to the rules.
Fort Frederica is a beautiful place for people to walk and there is plenty of room for them to social distance. I hope lots of people take advantage of the park during this time. Tom and I are both glad to have some other people to talk to!