WASHINGTON, Ark.—The 32nd annual Christmas and Candlelight at Historic Washington State Park offers something new this year with holiday scenes at the park's many homes and museums.
Saturday continues last weekend's kickoff of an event that interprets Christmas as it would have been celebrated in the 19th century, including historical scenes and live music. The park will be open for special daylight tours and candlelight tours from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
"At each one of the homes we're going to have a little scene of something that would have been typical in the 1800s," said Leita Spears, supervisor of interpretation at the Southwest Arkansas state park.
In one home, for example, people will play a parlor game typical of the time. At another, residents will be planning a menu based on a shipment of groceries that just arrived.
Information about how Christmas was really celebrated came from the Washington Telegraph newspaper of the time, as well as other primary sources like diaries.
"We've got several scenarios like that," Spears said. In addition to the holiday hubbub, homes are adorned with period-appropriate decor for the occasion. "You're seeing things that would have happened in that house while it was decorated."
Other highlights include making popcorn strings at the Morrison Tavern, stocking knitting at Crouch House, hot chocolate sipping at the Sanders Farmstead, parents reading "The Night Before Christmas" to their children at the Royston Log House and caroling at the 1836 Courthouse.
At the Print Museum, visitors can print their very own copy of a poem version of 'The Night Before Christmas," Spears said.
Holiday traditions also extend to the Jewish faith, as there was a Jewish family living in Washington at the time. "We'll have some traditional foods being cooked, including some Jewish food," Spears said.
At the 1874 Courthouse, a Union Tree provides a place for canned food donations. Historic Washington is partnering with Hope in Action on a canned food donation drive. It runs until Dec. 15. Anyone visiting the park for Christmas in Candlelight is encouraged to bring a canned food donation.
Spears compares a Union Christmas Tree to an Angel Tree of today, with gifts that are distributed to the community.
Another entertainment aspect of Christmas and Candlelight is live music starting at 5 p.m.
Saturday's live music lineup is:
(Tickets: $10, $6 for children 6 to 12. More info: 870-983-2684.)