Park service invites you to celebrate

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Each year, as part of regional holiday celebrations, Natchez National Historical Park has opened the door to Melrose and welcomed thousands of people through its gates for a weekend of tours, events, crafts, music and refreshments.

The annual event is a small thank-you from the park staff to area residents for their continued support of the Natchez NHP.

This year, however, due to ongoing construction and restoration projects taking place at Melrose, the park will host the holiday event at the William Johnson House at 210 State St.

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The historic site will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Family-friendly activities include a crafts room for children in which they can make finger puppets, Christmas ornaments and origami figures; marshmallow roasting on an open-fire pit; music and caroling provided by area church choirs and Girl Scout troops; and storytelling and Ranger programs.

Park staff will be on-hand, serving up cups of cider and handfuls of gingerbread men.

And of course, the William Johnson House will be decorated for the season and will be open for tours on both days.

Visitors will have an opportunity to see the home of the Johnson family as it may have appeared during the holiday season in the mid-19th century.

For famed Natchez diarist William Johnson, Christmas Day was pretty much like any other. His barber shops were open, although Johnson noted that business that day was typically pretty dull.

Occasionally, he attended Christmas Day horse races, drank eggnog with family and friends and purchased gifts for some of his slaves.

The year 1844 seems to have been a particularly festive time in Natchez as Johnson noted that there were “a great many persons in town” that week and there was “Considerable mirth in the City.”

Perhaps Natchezians were finally able to put behind them the financial hardships caused by the Panic of 1837 and the horrors of the tornado of 1840.

So please join us this weekend as the staff of Natchez National Historical Park celebrates the holiday season at the William Johnson House.

For more information, please call Natchez National Historical Park at 601-445-5790.


Jefferson G. Mansell is a historian at the Natchez National Historical Park.