Fort Morris State Historic Site hosted its annual Colonial Christmas festival on Saturday, giving visitors a taste of 18th century holiday traditions and seasonal entertainment.
Volunteers and attendees from across Coastal Georgia stepped back in time for a moment to observe the ways in which Christmas brought peace to the land, even during times of conflict, such as the Revolutionary War.
The Abreu family was one of the first of many to arrive at the park on the banks of the Medway River.
“We think Fort Morris is beautiful, so we decided to spend our Saturday learning about their traditional Christmas program,” Tiffany Abreu said of her clan’s third trek to the earthen berm. After being stationed at Fort Stewart, the Abreus began to research local attractions and found Fort Morris to be interesting. Visiting the fort also serves as an educational experience for 8-year-old Jazzmin.
“We like to get to know the community we are stationed in and our daughter gets to learn about Georgia history before we move on to the next state,” Tiffany Abreu said.
This year’s event consisted of three segments — an open house, bonfire and the final celebration.
During the open house, visitors were welcomed to the site and encouraged to watch a film on the “forgotten town of Sunbury.” The 11-minute informational piece gave viewers the scoop on the historic grounds Fort Morris was built to protect during the Revolutionary War.
“Before any event we host here, I suggest people to watch our film,” park host and volunteer Jana Wesley said. “It is important to know the community that once was here in order to understand why and how these people celebrated Christmas the way they did.”
After the film, guests headed outdoors to check out the various stations set up on the grounds. Attendees made colonial reefs out of Spanish moss, pine tree, bamboo and other leaves. Little ones tried their hands at 18th century games, such as bean-bag and ring toss. Those who’d worked up an appetite could observe the preparation and cooking of a holiday feast, which they later had the opportunity to taste.
After the open house, Greg Loskoski told “The Christmas Story” near the bonfire. A yule log was burned and candles were lit all across the fort, illuminating the area as volunteers helped Loskoski by acting out some of the scenes. Following the story, visitors sang Christmas carols as Jamie Keena played the hammered dulcimer, an instrument often used in Colonial times.
During the final celebration, Christmas guns were fired and guests enjoyed music and refreshments. In Colonial times, Christmas guns were fired as a holiday salute to friends and neighbors who often lived miles apart. Since Fort Morris’ guests were only yards away, however, they were instructed to cover their ears as the tradition was upheld.