Here’s a chance to celebrate Independence Day at historic Van Cortlandt Manor and Sunnyside…
Participating in old-fashioned ice-cream making, listening to a spirited reading of the Declaration of Independence, marching in a grand parade, and drilling and mustering with military re-enactors are some of the activities visitors can take part in at Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Tarrytown and Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson on Independence Day, Saturday, July 4, from 10-6 p.m.
Both sites, living history museums that are part of the Historic Hudson Valley network, will be dressed up in their finest patriotic regalia to celebrate the nation’s founding. Visitors can journey back to 1809 at Van Cortlandt Manor and to 1859 at Sunnyside. Tickets are available online at www.hudsonvalley.org.
Dramatic readings of the Declaration of Independence are a feature at both sites.
Sunnyside will feature a reading of an 1859 speech by Irving contemporary George William Curtis on abolition, who spoke “attended by a bodyguard with a great mob outside ready for violence, held in check by a large body of police. A few paving stones and a bottle of vitriol were thrown through the windows, but no serious injury was inflicted. This was one of the last instances in which an attempt was made to suppress free speech in the free states in the interest of slavery.” Curtis was also a close colleague of George P. Putnam, Irving’s longtime publisher.
Comic vignettes featuring toasts to the Republic and spirited debates about the pros and cons of temperance and women’s suffrage will also take place. On the issue of whether women should be granted the right to vote, two sisters will duke it out in a lively fashion.
Visitors can also participate in country dancing with caller Eric Hollman, join in rousing renditions of patriotic songs, witness the feats of comedic juggler Will Shaw, and play “town ball,” an early version of baseball that uses a big at and small ball. The home of Washington Irving will be open for tours throughout the day.
At Van Cortlandt Manor, the day’s centerpiece is a vast parade starting at 2 p.m. in front of the manor house. The parade will traverse the entire site and end with a special ceremony, singing, dancing, and games. Children can carry banners and all are invited to march.
From 10-2:30, a military re-enactment group will set up camp and invite one and all to drill and muster. Visitors can help with camp activities such as fire starting with flint and steel. Storytelling and 18th-century fiddle music round out the day.
While either event could be a perfect preamble to a picnic elsewhere, classic Fourth of July food from Geordanes Market in Irvington will be available, giving visitors an easy option for lunch. Of course, picnickers are welcome to bring their own treats.
Admission to either site is $12 for adults; $10 for seniors; $6 for children 5-17; and free for children under age 5 and HHV members. Tours of the sites’ houses are included in the price of admission. Washington Irving’s Sunnyside is at 89 West Sunnyside Lane in Tarrytown, one mile south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, off Route 9. Van Cortlandt Manor is at 525 South Riverside Avenue in Croton-on-Hudson, just off Route 9A. For information: 914-631-8200 or www.hudsonvalley.org.