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Candlelight Colonial Christmas Program Draws Hundreds

Thomas Stone National Historic Site

National Park News

Staff and volunteers at Thomas Stone National Historic Site presented a “Candlelight Colonial Christmas” program on Saturday, December 13th. Arriving guests were greeted at the visitor center by a costumed ranger who offered transport to the Stone mansion by way of garlanded wagons – each drawn by a matched pair of work horses – for a ride back in time. Along a lantern-lit route, guests silently huddled against the brisk night air while the rhythmic clip-clops of horses’ hooves sounded their approach.

At the rides’ end, a warming bonfire and candle-lit windows beckoned in the darkening night as guests descended and hurried to an opening door at the west end of the mansion. With the wagon-load of guests gathered inside, costumed rangers and volunteers presented first-person vignettes of Christmas 1782 — the Stone’s last Christmas at their beloved “Haberdeventure.”

Led by ranger Scott Hill, who portrayed Thomas Stone – one of Maryland’s signers of the Declaration of Independence – other characters included Stone’s younger brother Michael Jenifer Stone, played by ranger Jay Moose, and his Uncle Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, played by volunteer Jim Scruggs. As they strolled through the lovely rooms decorated with fruits and native greens of holly and pine, guests learned that Thomas Stone was regretfully mulling over the need to turn operations of “Haberdeventure” over to his brother in the coming year because of his wife’s need for medical treatment as well as his call to duty at the state’s capital in Annapolis.  Discussions of what these future changes would mean filled the parlor that evening.

In contrast to the actors’ heavy words of change and war’s end – the American Revolution had only drawn to close in the preceding months and English troops still resided in New York City – were the beautiful notes from a stringed-duet of violin and cello. Two remarkable students, Alex Hanna and Corey Bautista, played traditional holiday tunes in the hyphen, a connecting room of this famous five-part mansion. Volunteering from the local youth orchestra, these award-winning musicians heightened the festivities with their merry tunes sounding through mansion.  

Reminded of this guests’ long ride, Mr. Stone broke off from his “serious business” to wish his guests welcome and the merriest of holidays and to offer them libations and treats provided for their enjoyment by the Charles County Historic Trust. Hot cider, ham biscuits and cookies were an enjoyable treat on this cold winter evening in southern Maryland.

In its eighth year, the Thomas Stone NHS holiday celebration has become a tradition for local families, staff and volunteers.  Seeking respite from the bright lights, glitter and noise of our 21st century celebration, all who participate enjoy the night sky with only stars and firelight to punctuate the blackness and simple sounds of creaking wagons, melodic strings and human voices to spread the sounds of the season.  

This year, more than 200 guests enjoyed Thomas Stone’s holiday hospitality. The evening’s success more than compensated the staff and our wonderful volunteers and local associations for all their efforts.



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