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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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May 16, 2024

Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon: Combining fall festivities with 18th century culture

On+Oct.+28%2C+Mount+Vernon+held+its+annual+Trick-or-Treating+event%2C+which+debuted+in+2014.+Families+visited+George+Washington%E2%80%99s+historic+home+to+collect+candy+and+celebrate+Halloween+with+18th+century+themed+activities.
Celia Noya
On Oct. 28, Mount Vernon held its annual Trick-or-Treating event, which debuted in 2014. Families visited George Washington’s historic home to collect candy and celebrate Halloween with 18th century themed activities.

Children scamper eagerly across a lush green lawn, dressed in colorful costumes. The sun beams through the vibrant red and orange leaves as they stop in front of the iconic red-roofed British Palladian-style mansion overlooking the Potomac River: Mount Vernon. A volunteer clad in colonial-style clothing places candy in their outstretched bags. After receiving their treat, the children continue down the gravel path towards their next stop.

On Oct. 28, Mount Vernon held its annual Trick-or-Treating event, which debuted in 2014. Families visited George Washington’s historic home to collect candy and celebrate Halloween with 18th century themed activities. The event, which attracts around 2,500 visitors per year, aims to build community and allow guests to experience Mount Vernon in a new and exciting way, said Julie Almacy, the site’s Director of Public Affairs. 

At the Trick-or-Treating event, children visited different stations on the property to collect Halloween candy. For many employees and volunteers, seeing all of the kids dressed up and spending time at Mount Vernon in an untraditional way was very special. 

  “It’s great to see all the little kids,” employee Maddie Sisson said. “Reimagining how a museum can be used is really cool, and [so is] letting kids use it in a way that it’s not normally used for.” 

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Visitors also participated in a variety of themed activities to experience more of the colonial culture. Whether it be sampling a recipe from the 1760s, learning how rope was made, listening to colonial music or participating in 18th century dancing, Mount Vernon incorporated several hands-on educational activities to keep families entertained throughout the afternoon. The site also linked modern-day entertainment, like magic and puppet shows, to favorite historical events. 

“These connections are important in getting many interested in the past,” Almacy said. “Guests can learn about 18th century magic with Mr. Peter Gardiner and watch a Punch & Judy Puppet Show, one of Washington’s favorites.”

For many visitors, the afternoon helps solidify the fall mood. Not only can guests celebrate Halloween by trick-or-treating but also by simply admiring the colorful trees that surround the property. Visitor Ashlynn Bennett enjoyed her second time visiting Mount Vernon and participating in the Halloween-themed event. 

“I wanted to get in a pre-trick-or-treating thing, and I like looking at all the views,” Bennett, who was dressed as the Statue of Liberty, said. “[I enjoy] walking around and getting the candy and also seeing the house.”

Visitors who seek to connect with nature on the property can follow pathways that lead to the four gardens, a 12-acre field, the Forest Trail, Washington’s Bowling Green and the sparkling Potomac River. Guests can also visit animals on the historic farm and learn about agriculture in the 18th century. 

Apart from lively community events like trick-or-treating, Mount Vernon is open year-round to visitors. It opened to the public in 1860 and attracts around one million visitors annually. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union — a private non-profit organization founded in 1853 — maintains the property. The association aims to preserve and restore the property in order to educate visitors about George Washington’s life and legacy. 

Many visitors assume that Mount Vernon receives money from the government but that couldn’t be further from the truth, said ten-year volunteer Jim Fellhauer. Since maintaining the site and educating visitors is a private concern, the upkeep of the property is paid for by revenue from the gift shop and restaurants, normal and special event ticket sales and various donations. 

Some of the main year-round attractions at Mount Vernon are Washington’s mansion, which visitors can tour, and George and Martha Washington’s tomb. Guests can also stop by the Historic Area to explore 18th century culture and view various demonstrations including those in a blacksmith shop, smokehouse and spinning house. 

The enslaved population at Mount Vernon primarily carried out these tasks, and guests can learn more about this by visiting the Slave Memorial, which opened to the public in 1983. The memorial recognizes the impact of the slaves at Mount Vernon and marks the cemetery where many were buried.

Whether visitors want to learn more about George Washington’s life and legacy, stroll through the historical grounds or enjoy festive events like trick-or-treating, there is always something interesting to see at Mount Vernon, Almacy said. 

Mount Vernon holds various other special events throughout the year. Some upcoming events include “Mount Vernon by Candlelight,” “Winter Wreath Class,” “The Death and Mourning of General George Washington Tour” and “Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon.”

Anne Bruce returned for her second year at the Trick-or-Treating event with her two kids, who were dressed as a ninja and a character from Paw Patrol. For Bruce, simply relaxing on the back lawn of Mount Vernon overlooking the Potomac River is the best part of the experience. 

“It’s just really nice,” Bruce said. “It’s a magical place.”

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Celia Noya
Celia Noya, Feature Writer
Grade 11 Why did you join The B&W? I started writing for my schools newspaper in Elementary School and instantly loved it. I joined the Black and White to continue writing, to connect with my community, and to listen to people's stories and experiences. What is your favorite song? How Far I'll Go from Moana  

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