Last week people at Henry Ford Museum and across the country took part in the National Day of Courage, a day celebrating the strength of Rosa Parks on what would have been her 100th birthday. Guests filled the museum all day long to take part in the festivities. Thanks to our live stream of the event from Detroit Public Television, we were able to share the events online, too. From expressions of gratitude to thankful Facebook posts, it was exciting to see so many share their thoughts on Mrs. Parks and what courage means to them.
Our morning began with opening remarks from Julian Bond, a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.
We were honored to have U.S. Congressmen Gary Peters and John Conyers and Senator Carl Levin on hand to share their thoughts on Mrs. Parks and share a Presidential Proclamation for her 100th birthday. You can watch Congressman Peters share part of the letter below.
On Feb. 4, The Henry Ford is celebrating what would have been Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday with a National Day of Courage. Mrs. Parks wasn’t looking to start a movement when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man on Dec. 1, 1955, but instead was acting upon a courageous response to her instincts. Mrs. Parks later said of that day, “When I made that decision, I knew that I had the strength of my ancestors with me.”
In 2001 The Henry Ford became the home to Montgomery, Ala., bus No. 2857, the very bus that Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat on. The bus has become a symbol for courage and strength as many believe Mrs. Parks’ actions that day sparked the American Civil Rights Movement.
Starting the National Day of Courage off is American Civil Rights activist and leader Julian Bond. In the 1960s Mr. Bond founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and would later go on to serve as chairman of the NAACP. Joining him during the day are contributing Newsweek editor Eleanor Clift, Rosa Parks biographers Jeanne Theoharis and Douglas Brinkley, and author and Wayne State University Assistant Professor Danielle McGuire.
Today we’re excited to announce that in addition to a day packed with activities, The Henry Ford will be dedicating the new Rosa Parks Forever stamp from the United States Postal Service.
The new stamp, showcasing a portrait of Mrs. Parks, will be available for purchase and cancellation at Henry Ford Museum all day.
On site with us on Feb. 4 will be USA Network’s “Characters Unite” public service campaign. Visitors can learn more about the campaign and create a special souvenir.
Admission to Henry Ford Museum, from 9:30 a.m .to 9:30 p.m., is free that day thanks to Target and another installment of their Target Family Days.
Our celebration of Mrs. Parks and her courage isn’t just here in the museum. No matter where you are you can participate digitally as we share stories of hope and inspiration.
Online we’re asking individuals to post their messages of courage by sharing a digital Facebook badge. We even have a plain badge that you can download and write your own message on. If you do, make sure to take a picture of yourself wearing it and tag us on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #dayofcourage.
Thanks to our partners at Detroit Public Television, a live stream of the day’s events will be available to watch online. You can find that link here. After the National Day of Courage, make sure to visit DPTV’s website for additional interviews and highlights.
While the special activities for the National Day of Courage happen for just one day, we’ll be sharing some of our significant Civil Rights artifacts all throughout the month of February. For the latest information on the National Day of Courage, make sure to visit our event page and website.
I survived a beautiful night that included fireside chats, reindeer, tasty food, lantern lit walkways, historic goodness, Christmas carolers and ice-skating.
I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.
Based on the fact that Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village has sold out most nights during this year’s annual program, I’m not alone.
From experience, I can share a few survival tactics to help others make the most of the event. It took me a while to get it right, maybe because the weather changes the experience so much. It’s winter – in Michigan. (I don’t think I need to add much to that.)
Tip one: Dress to stay warm and dry
We’ve attended the event in temperate weather – running around with coats open and hats off. We’ve also survived some pretty freezing weather decked out in snow pants and facemasks, scurrying from house to house eager to warm frosty noses and icy toes.
This year, a misty rain greeted us early in the night, but it was gone soon enough. I closed my umbrella shortly after arrival and didn’t touch it again. Outside of a little extra mud, it was very comfortable.
Staying warm and dry is key to enjoying the event. I’ve often told my older girls that cozy wins over cute. (That’s not always an easy adage for teenage girls when their vision of strolling through the fire-lit village doesn’t generally include two pair of socks, snow pants and long johns. Or – oh no – when last year’s warm gloves don’t match this year’s new coat.) But it’s a long event, and there’s so much to do. It’s one thing to be warm for an hour or so, but Holiday Nights is a three-and-a-half hour gig.
Fortunately, there are many warming fires throughout the village. They’re great for relieving the chill, and meeting and greeting other visitors to the event.
Tip two: Arrive early
There’s so much to do at Holiday Nights, we like to arrive early with a plan. We used try see every element of the night – visit each house, workshop, etc. However, now that the kids are older, they want to DO everything at Holiday Nights. That means skating, wagon rides, carousel rides. Even our youngest wants into the action, and sitting in a stroller isn’t much of an option.
When the event is sold out, there can be some waiting involved. The lines for rides on horse-drawn wagons, Model Ts and the carousel (turning to the tune of Christmas carols) were somewhat lengthy during our visit. (That’s another reason to dress warmly.)
Upon our arrival this year, we headed directly to the skating rink since that was a top priority for everyone. I confess, I didn’t actually skate this time, but I enjoyed watching our children don the borrowed blades and make their attempts. It was a first try for our six-year-old, and she enjoyed it thoroughly. Near the end of the night, three of the kids went back for a second visit to the ice.
Tip three: Bring your appetite
There are some great concession stands to add flavor to the night. There’s nothing quite like standing outside eating a hot fire-roasted beef sandwich smothered in caramelized onions. Or roasted chestnuts. Or steaming stew. Or any of the other yummy delights special to the event. We grabbed a cup of hot cocoa at the same place we usually grab a cool summertime treat, since frozen the custard stand was converted for more appropriate cold-weather fare. We’ve never done the dinner package at Eagle Tavern (which sells out lickety split). Maybe someday we’ll make that happen.
Tip four: Visit Santa
Whether you have children with you or not, it’s quite a joy just standing back watching the reactions of little ones as Santa calls their names from atop the balcony of the Stephen Foster house. We made a sweet memory again this year, since our littlest is three and just ripe for the fun magic of Santa.
Just before I caught up with my family to see Santa, my husband texted me that old jolly guy had just aided in a marriage proposal.
Where was I? Our oldest daughter needed a band-aid, so I sought out security to get one. While I was waiting for a band-aid, my family was ooh-ing and ahh-ing with folks privy to the event. I unsuccessfully tried to track down the newly promised couple - after the fact - with hopes of snapping a photo, but I was met with conflicting reports from my apparently not-too-observant entourage.
Tip five: Bring bandages
See tip four. (Bah humbug.)
Tip six: Stay late
Even in the cold, there’s nothing bitter about the end of this sweet night out. A Christmas carol sing-a-long with fireworks is just the perfect icing for a great time and a fitting finale to a night that always makes me feel I’ve stepped inside a classic Currier and Ives Christmas illustration … but with the added bonus of glitter.
Mummer may be the word, but if you ask my three-year-old, it’s a little more like “freaky.” He shied away from the costumed men parading in down Main Street during Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village. He asked me if the men suited in traditional Mummer-finery thought it was Halloween. (I think his exact words were: “What the? Halloween?”)
Mummers and the practice of Mummering were popular through the mid 1800s in the northeastern United States. Although the custom has ancient origins, most of the men participating in the pageantry in the U.S. weren’t aware of that fact, according to Jim Johnson, who is senior manager of creative programs at Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.
Young men in villages dressed in costumes and masks, and went door to door. They would sing and dance, ask for food and drink, and if they weren’t given any, they’d come in and take it. Costumes were elaborate, often outlandish and grotesque, and to add to the fun, people pretended they didn't recognize each other.
Jim said that it was a practice primarily among the lower class, and a premise of the activity was role and class reversal.
Mummering reached a pinnacle in the years before the Civil War, but at that time, Christmas in general was celebrated very differently compare with what we know of the holiday today. In some areas of the country, it was a rather raucous holiday celebrated by men taking to the streets.
“If someone from that era was dropped into today's New Year's Eve celebrations in larger cities - with people gathering and shouting in the streets - they would indeed recognize that kind of holiday celebration,” Jim explained.
Mummering died out before it made its way to Michigan. “By the time we were celebrating Christmas here - Mummering was something that was not a part of it,” Jim said.
The costumes worn by the Mummers in Greenfield Village are inspired by
illustrations and written accounts from the middle 1800s. Jim shared the above
image of costumed paraders marching; it’s from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper,
Jan. 18, 1862.
To get a flavor of the fun and spectacle of the custom, the description from the paper offers more detail of the practice and of the dress donned by the participating Mummers:
The 44th New York was encamped around Hall's Hill in present-day Arlington. The men found an interesting way to celebrate the holiday by organizing "a burlesque parade":
All of the officers gave over their commands to the men. Bob Hitchcock, a member of the band, whose avoirdupois was about 300 pounds, was duly promoted and mustered as Colonel of the parade. He was dressed in a manner becoming his high rank. He was mounted upon a horse that surpassed in inferiority the famous Rozinante [Don Quixote's horse]. He rode with his face turned toward the horse's tail so that he might at all times watch his command. The horse was embellished with a pair of trousers on his fore legs, and a pair of drawers on his hind legs. . . The men were uniformed in most dissimilar and fantastic garbs. As a whole the rank and file easily surpassed Falstaff and his famous command. The commands given and the manner of their execution were unprecedented and quaint. The tactics of Scott, Hardee and Casey would be searched in vain to find precedent for those impromptu evolutions. The dress parade which followed was unique in its dissimilarity from anything promulgated in army regulations. No words can describe it. Frank Leslie's Illustrated paper only faintly depicted a short section of it but it lingers in the memory like a bright spot in that winter's experience of army life. (Nash 56.)
You can see the cage-like skirt on the Greenfield Village Mummer on the right was inspired by the 1862 illustration.
Mummer costumes were creatively made with whatever household materials available. The gentleman pictured above uses a quilt for a cape.
Inspired by the rowdy reputation of Mummers of days gone by, the village masqueraders boldly address visitors to Holiday Nights and aren’t the least bit camera shy for those who want to take home a souvenir of their encounter.
Philadelphia still honors the Mummering tradition with an annual New Year’s Day Mummers Parade – the oldest folk parade in the country. The glamorous and elaborate costumes for the parade have evolved greatly and bear little resemblance to the historic Mummer costumes represented at Greenfield Village.
We were creating a lot of delicious fall-inspired food items the past few months as we celebrated Fall Flavor. With all that food, we're sure more than a few of you got a bit thirsty. Take a look at how we make pumpkin ale, a welcomed beverage at the end of a long day.
If you’ve visited Firestone Farm in Greenfield Village, have you ever seen our presenters canning jams, jellies, and other delicious pantry staples? If not, you’re in for a treat.
This fall we got a firsthand look at what goes into canning. While canning is a food preservation technique first experimented with more than 200 years ago, it’s gaining a resurgence among foodies and families looking to eat local as much as they can each year and enjoy favorite flavors all year long.
When we visited Firestone Farm in September, our team was working with some fresh products from our farms almost every day. Our presenters make everything from bottle pickles to cucumber catsup. If a recipe doesn’t set quite right, it doesn’t go to waste - when peaches don’t seal, they become a tasty pie filling.
As you’ll see in the video, presenters Becky Goodenow and Larissa Fleishman start out by sterilizing the jars they’ll use for canning that day. You can’t touch the inside of the jar, as you might contaminate it, so a clean cloth is used to wipe it down. A metal spoon is most important because it helps disperse the heat from the hot liquid. This helps to prevent the cooler glass jar from cracking as you pour in the boiling liquid.
With one glance, it’s clear this isn’t your kids’ LEGO exhibit. It’s not that they won’t enjoy it, because they most certainly will. My 11-year-old son and his friend will attest to that. Their jaws were dropped in awe walking through the exhibit space. They were officially blown away. So were the adults.
I found the exhibit much more of an art exhibit than a toy display. We took the kids to the LEGO Castle Adventure exhibit in the same space just a few years ago, and although I wasn’t expecting a repeat theme, I certainly wasn’t imagining dramatic structures of this detail, beauty and scale.
LEGO artist Adam Reed Tucker takes the familiar building brick out of the box and uses it in some not-so-familiar ways to create remarkable replicas of some of the world’s architectural icons. Some buildings included in the exhibit are the Empire State Building, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, the Sky Needle, Transamerica Pyramid, Shanghai’s Jin Mao Tower and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Also part of the exhibit is Detroit’s Ford Field. The completed structure will be moved for unveiling and display at the field on Thanksgiving then returned to Henry Ford Museum the next day.
Tucker was on hand the opening weekend of the exhibit. He continued work on the Ford Field replica, took time to answer questions, sign autographs and even gave an impromptu tour.
An architect by trade and in practice, the tough economy put Tucker in a position of reconsidering his life’s work. After years of working with computer renderings in the business side of architecture, he had a desire to create with his own hands and inspire others to do the same. That’s where building with LEGO came in.
Tucker came up with a plan to use LEGO to recreate some famous buildings and sell them. In an effort to get reacquainted with the building bricks - he hadn’t built with them since before high school – he said he went to Toys R Us and filled 13 baskets with LEGO kits. (There was an audible gasp from the children present.)
Adam Reed Tucker demonstrates creative repurposing of a standard LEGO piece.
Tucker said the reason he chose LEGO was simple: to inspire others. “I wanted to teach people about architecture and encourage them to build models with just LEGO pieces. Using LEGO doesn’t require glue, putty or any special skills or tools.” He said the only difference in skill is in how you use LEGO. For many of the buildings in the exhibit, he creatively repurposed parts by at times using them in ways not originally intended.
Tucker came up with the concept of “artitecture” and his work eventually led him to an association with LEGO as a creator of LEGO Architecture sets.
Playing with LEGO as a child fed Tucker’s interest in architecture, and now in some ways he has come full circle. I asked him if he ever in his wildest dreams thought he’d be doing this, he laughed and said, “No, I didn’t.” But he also said he plans to continue doing it for the rest of his life.
I can honestly say, I will never look at a LEGO quite the same. I’m not sure if that means I won’t howl quite as much when I step on a wayward piece, but I will recognize the piece for the possibility, potential and inspiration it can bring to the minds of the young and old.
The exhibit includes a very large LEGO play area for visitors of all ages to put some of their newly found inspiration into practice. My son and his friend spent nearly two hours creating some architectural gems that they eagerly added to the growing LEGO city display table.
In need of some pumpkin carving inspiration? Check out our new THF Freebies page. You'll find a set of stencils to carve your pumpkin with this weekend! Check out our video to see the Model T stencil in action.
Sunday is – at long last - the day we head to Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village. I say “at long last” because the countdown to the next Halloween pretty much starts while our kids are inspecting their candy haul from making the neighborhood rounds.
Our littlest goblin can’t wait to see the “gary gelletons.” Those glowing and dancing skeletons in the gazebo near the covered bridge made a quite a lasting impression during last year’s visit. I recorded a bit of their performance on my phone, and hands-down that clip is the most revisited video in my mobile library. Clifford, now three, has watched it countless times. Whenever he sees it, he feigns frightful shivers, and as much as he enjoyed the video, we enjoyed his reaction. (So thanks to The Henry Ford for that little gift that just kept on giving.) Whenever we pass that gazebo during summer visits to the village, he reminds me of those bony, xylophone-playing dancers.
I took my son Henry to the village Saturday to watch the plowing with the 1904 Port Huron Steam Engine and Percheron horses at Firestone. It was chilly, so we decided to head to Eagle Tavern to get warm and have lunch. (I’m always ready for an excuse to stop in for Squash Soup and an order of Bubble and Squeak.) Henry pointed out some of the decorations already in place for Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village.
“These look different in the daytime,” he said looking at the headstones arranged on the Village Green. Then he noted that the coffin looked “too new.” He said he thought it should look more worn. When I explained to him that a fresh pine coffin meant a fresh body, I learned that even in broad daylight a fake cemetery can move a shudder through the shoulders of a 10-year-old boy.
With each year, even as the older kids know some of what to expect, they seem to anticipate it with excitement and a little nervousness.
We have so many fond memories. Our 20-year-old still tells the story of when she was little and was so mesmerized by the huge bonfire that she completely missed the silent Grim Reaper - until he was right in front of her. Her ridiculous reaction was anything but silent, and we still laugh about it.
We also look forward to being inspired by some of the more 900 jack-o-lanterns that light the village since we’ve yet to carve ours.
Our kids are good historians of our visits over the years. They always keenly look for their favorite things, seeing what’s replaced what, what costumes are new, what vignettes are different or have been moved, etc. It seems someone always misses something, since there is so much to see. I look forward to the discussion on the ride home.
I know, my daughter looks slightly petrified in this photo – but have no fear – she can’t wait to see the Headless Horseman again this year. She’s determined she won’t be the slightest bit frightened.
A few weeks back, I had the opportunity sit down with Jim Johnson, senior manager of creative programs at The Henry Ford, and learn about a few changes in which I’m sure my kids and others will delight. I can’t wait to see what he described and see my children’s reactions.
But until then, mum’s the word. Or maybe even Dracula is the word. Who knows? Should be exciting with just the right amount of spooky and not-too-scary fun.
Laser artist and maker Mike Gould these past weeks has set up shop in the lobby of the JW Marriott Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich., as part of the city’s three-week ArtPrize 2012 event. Mike received one of MAKE magazine’s editor’s choice awards during Maker Faire Detroit in July.
He exhibited his work in the Plaza in Henry Ford Museum. He brought with him and displayed some of the equipment he’s made and collected throughout his exploration of creating art with light. He also very generously shared with visitors his journey and love of the craft.
Visitors to Maker Faire Detroit were able to get their hands on some of Mike’s early DIY laser light equipment.
At ArtPrize 2012, Mike talks to daytime visitors to the JW Marriot Hotel, but starts his Stratus 10 exhibit – for obvious reasons - after sundown. The display is very visible from the outside, Mike said. “You can see it from across the river, from the walk bridge and when you’re driving by on the highway.”