Saturday, April 15, Tom and I were guest presenters at the St. Marys Historical Celebration. St. Marys is about an hour south of St. Simons Island. The Visitor Center for Cumberland Island National Seashore is in St. Marys. Cumberland Island is a sister park to Fort Frederica and we share a superintendent. The superintendent asked Fort Frederica to send some living history people to represent the Colonial era, and our boss decided to send us.
So we dressed in our historical clothes and headed down to St. Marys early on Saturday morning. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by the Historical Celebration organizing team who led us to the spot they had prepared for us. Unfortunately, they had us confused with the Daughters of the American Revolution. Tom thought that was pretty funny because he was dressed in the red coat of the British soldier. But there weren’t many booths, so it was easy for us to find the National Park booth and get set up next to that.
This was a first-ever Historical Celebration for St. Marys. The St. Marys Tall Ship Alliance arranged for a visit from the Nina and Pinta, reproductions of Columbus’s vessels, and that was the impetus to put together the festival. The Nina and Pinta were open for tours from April 14 through 17. You had to buy a ticket to see them, but the rest of the Historical Celebration was free.
Tom and I talked to visitors from the moment we got set up until we finally packed up our table at 2:30. We were certainly the busiest table at the festival. We had our usual living history display with coins, spoons, candles, and fire-starting. Of course, Tom always draws a crowd when he is dressed like a British soldier. Everyone wants their picture taken with him.
In some ways, the Historical Celebration was about the military history of St. Marys and the coastal islands. Tom made a big display map of the coastal islands and their colonial forts. The map showed the martial engagements between the British and Spanish in 1742. Staff from Fort King George represented the Revolutionary battles. Rangers from Cumberland Island had a diorama of the battle in the War of 1812 that took place on Cumberland Island.
The Daughters of the American Revolution had some colonial games and crafts for kids. The Sons of the American Revolution had a display about the history of flags during the American Revolution. The NPS hung a flag from the War of 1812 which had 15 stars, even though there were 18 states in 1812. We had to do a little research on the flag and found out that the U.S. didn’t start adding a star for each state until 1818.
Several current military units had displays at the Historical Celebration. Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base is located in St. Marys. The base is the U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s home port for ballistic missile nuclear submarines armed with Trident missile nuclear weapons. Tom got his picture taken with some of the Naval officers. The Coast Guard and the Army Reserves also had a display at the festival.
St. Marys has a small, but lively, historical district on the river. There are several good restaurants. The ferry to Cumberland Island leaves from the dock by the park. A food truck sold sandwiches to the visitors to the Historical Celebration. Several local bands played in the amphitheater in the park where the festival was held.
It was a beautiful day and the celebration was a big success. The St. Marys Historical Society has already thanked us and invited us back for next year.