Celebrating Maryland on its 376th birthday

Events scheduled Sunday at Historic St. Mary's City

March 26, 2010|By Shruti Rastogi

There's a lot more to the Maryland Day celebration at Historic St. Mary's City on Sunday than just honoring the 376th anniversary of Maryland's founding.

St. Mary's City is a living history museum and has four sites that immerse visitors in 17th-century life. Maryland Day is March 25, commemorating the day the first colonists, who sailed in on the Ark and Dove, landed on St. Clements Island in 1634. However, the museum celebrates it on the Sunday closest to that date, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with all exhibits and events free to the public.

Edward C. Papenfuse Jr., Maryland state archivist and the keynote speaker for Maryland Day, said he will dicuss how those early colonists "had no idea of how hard it might be and how harsh it might be," and yet still had "a tremendous amount of optimism."

About 140 of the 200 people who sailed were indentured servants. They had hard lives ahead, but they came for relief from incessant wars and religious intolerance.

Maryland's founder, the second Lord Baltimore, mandated "freedom of conscience" before other English colonies in the New World, said Susan Wilkinson, Historic St. Mary's City's director of marketing and communications.

Maryland Day events and museum exhibits:

•All day long, visitors can fly kites in the open space at the Town Center.

•The St. John's Site Museum.

•The Dove "living history" site, where Papenfuse said visitors can see "what it was like to travel more than 5,000 miles in a very small ship."

•The Town Center living history site, where there is Smith's Ordinary or inn and a print shop with a reproduction of a Franklin press to help visitors learn about early printing techniques.

•The Indian Hamlet living history site where there are two grass longhouses. One is outfitted as if it were inhabited by Indians and the other is outfitted as if inhabited by the English.

•The Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation living history site, where it is always the year 1661 and interpreters portray colonists.

•A reconstructed statehouse built for Maryland's 300th anniversary.

•A reconstructed Catholic chapel. The original was the largest brick Catholic chapel in English-speaking North America.

•At 1 p.m., the Maryland Day ceremony will begin. Papenfuse will speak about the struggles of Maryland's first colonists. First Missionary Baptist Church Youth Choir will perform, and during the Ceremony of the Flags, fourth-graders from each Maryland jurisdiction will present their county colors.

•Afterward, guests can go to Mackall Barn for the ribbon cutting for a new exhibit about agriculture in St. Mary's County.

•At 3:30 p.m., the St. Mary's College of Maryland Orchestra and senior soloists will perform in St. Mary's Hall.

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