Does it ever feel like Christmas is far more than a one-day holiday event? Well, since working at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, I’ve learned that for the park, it is more than a month long campaign! Long before we hosted Christmas at the Fort, we began preparation for the event all the way back in early November, and I had the privilege of being able to assist my park ranger co-workers in the process.
For the massive public event, we prepared to recreate a historically accurate Christmas that would have taken place at Fort Vancouver in 1845. Together with our dedicated volunteers, we planned and designed interactive stations that gave volunteers and visitors an opportunity to make their own wreaths, wooden toy spinning tops, Wassail (hot cider), potpourri, and tassels. In additional, our volunteers put on demonstrations including blacksmithing, black powder shooting, historic game playing, scenes of the upper class in the Chief Factor’s House, clerks and voyageurs in the fur warehouse, a trader in the Indian Trade Shop, historic dancing in the Counting House, cooks and assistants in the historic kitchen, and doctors in the infirmary (there were real leeches present!). Unfortunately, our plans for hatchet throwing got axed due inclement weather.
Finally the event day came. After concerns that the event would be cancelled due to icy weather (Vancouver was hit by a bad ice storm) were erased, over three thousand visitors showed up to see our revelries on a cold December morning. Over seventy of our dedicated volunteers turned out to contribute almost five hundred volunteer volunteers. Almost seven hours later, after much scurrying about and non-stop radio communication, we succeeded in transitioning every volunteer to their respective stations, made sure every volunteer had adequate food and breaks, and coordinated with all other volunteer needs, thus successfully hosting Christmas at the Fort! I even managed to impress my girlfriend’s father!
I’d like to finish by expressing my thanks and gratitude to all of the volunteers (and their family’s!) for making Christmas at Fort Vancouver a huge success. Without your support, time, and skills, this popular event would not be possible. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for a Happy New Year!