I am Hilary Grabowska, a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador for the National Park Service at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
Earlier this summer, the NPS Academy intern at Harpers Ferry National Historical and I came up with the idea of hosting an after hours movie night in the historic town of Harpers Ferry as a centennial event. The plan was to show a film that had a connection to Harpers Ferry and to project it on the side of one of the historic buildings. We got the green light and set to work to make our plan a reality.
We had a number of roadblocks and less than a week away from the actual event, we thought we would have to cancel it, even though we had begun advertising on Instagram. Thankfully, we did not have to cancel, but our other forms of advertising were not approved until the day before the event. We knew for sure that our families and the interns who live in the park would attend, but we feared that no one else would show up.
August 1, the night of the event came, and we began setting up an hour before it was set to start. As we hooked up our computer and projector and plugged in our speakers, we had people come up to us and ask if we were setting up for the movie! We were thrilled but the best was yet to come.
At 8:30, we got up and introduced ourselves, the event, the Find Your Park campaign and the film, John Brown’s Holy War. It was showtime and not only did we have more people than our families and the interns, we had 50 people show up and they stayed for the whole film! While we had some trouble getting this project off the ground in the end, we learned from the problems, we were successful and we helped visitors make a new connection to their park. As people were leaving, we heard them talk about how cool it was to see a film about an event that happened right where they were sitting.