We’re Open ! ! !

We made it!  We’ve suffered through the doldrums caused by gloomy weather and dark winter evenings.  We’ve endured the cold, windy, and often wet, days and nights.  The first day of spring has come and gone.  And, now, we’ve finally opened our doors for the 2016 year.

And, we’ve opened with a flurry of activity.  On our first day of the new season, we had many museum visitors.  We offered tours to families wishing to see the Windmill.  And, we had morning and afternoon school groups enjoying our educational field trip programs on our shores, grounds, and in the museum.  In short, we had children and families running everywhere across our grounds all day long…just what we love to see!

Side-by-side with all of this fun and learning, our museum staff and volunteers continued to work on rebuilding our dry ship…the one on the Windmill lot that we use for children’s programs and for concerts, play, re-enactments and other fun museum activities. The sides are framed and the ship’s deck is now nearly complete.

As we’ve mentioned in past emails and other posts, the original dry ship concept proved over and over it was a great educational kiosk for conducting children’s programs and for many other museum activities.  But, the ship had begun to show signs of aging and of heavy wear-and-tear. So, this last fall, our Museum Board approved replacement of the existing 30-foot dry ship with a ship that is 55-feet long and nearly double in width.  This larger size will not only allow us to better accommodate children’s programs, it will also be a better site for all of the other activities we host throughout the year.  And, instead of being a single square-rigged sailing ‘vessel’, the new mock-up will feature a more complex combination of triangular and square sails, much like the schooners that worked on our waters in the colonial times.  This sail configuration will allow is to expand the depth of our education in areas we were only able to touch upon in the past.

That was Day 1 of the new 2016 season.  Today, Saturday April 2nd, was Day 2 of the new season and we continued to work at a fevered pitch.  Despite the threat of heavy rain, our museum had numerous visitors.  Our Gift Shop provided many of them with unique gifts and keepsakes from a wide inventory of nautical and regional items.  Work on the dry ship did not continue, of course, because it was anything but dry with the light rain that fell most of the day.

But, we were blessed to have a group of volunteers from the Kiwanis Club of Tabb, Virginia volunteer their time and talents to support our small museum.  Kiwanis members dedicate themselves to serving their communities all year long. But, the excitement for service really builds in April each year when Kiwanis members from around the world come together for Kiwanis ‘One Day’ — a day of global community service. Today, we were the beneficiaries of the Tabb Kiwanians’ volunteer spirit.  Our newest volunteers cleaned museum moldings and mob boards, restoring some of the luster to our colonial revival building.  In addition, these tireless volunteers sorted and folded over fifteen hundred (1500) registration flyers for our four upcoming children’s summer camps: Pirate, Archeology, Boatbuilding, and Nature Explorer.

Completing all of that work was amazing.  They accomplished tasks that would have taken our small volunteer force many, many days to perform.  But, there is even more.  A third group of volunteers cut, stitched and sewed the two new triangular sails – the fore staysail and the foresail – that will be used on the dry ship.  Using centuries-old sewing techniques, these volunteers created sails reminiscent of the great days of sail that existed when America was founded.  These new sails, when combined with a triangular mainsail and a square topsail, will give the ship a brigantine sail configuration common to those early American ships.

So, that’s what our first two days were like.  We can’t say every other day will be this busy.  But, we promise you things will not slow much.

In the upcoming weeks, we have numerous pre-school, school,  and home schooled educational visits planned.  We also expect our visitation to climb rapidly, especially through Spring Break and the warmer weather that follows.

April 11th, we host a meeting of the Yorktown Rotary Club.  On April 13th we will conduct our free monthly music Jam Session beginning at 5:30 in the Carriage House. Monday, April 18th offers another Swing Dance Event, followed on April 25th with another evening of Storytellers.

On April 9th, join us for a special event called Tartans and Tie-Dye.  We’re hosting this celebration to support Relay-4-Life events of the American Cancer Society for more info, email tartanstiedyes@gmail.com) .  So come join us around noon for a day (and evening) of walking relays, fun activities and concerts from multiple bands.

And, the very next weekend, beginning at noon, we are hosting a Museum Fundraiser called the York River Craft Beer Festival (www.yorkriverbeerfestival.com).

Of course, the end of April also starts our Friday evening concert series, on April 29th and also kicking off the Yorktown Pirate Invasion, and annual pirate palooza weekend celebration featuring pirates, cannons, ships, music and more on April 30th through May 1st.

So, come visit for tons of fun and excitement.  The season is just beginning…with a cannon boom, not a puny rifle shot.