MUMFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — People were out celebrating the Fourth of July in 19th century style at the Genesee Country Village and Museum on Monday.
It was a big success following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Museum officials said that more than 1,000 visitors attended the event, which featured several family fun activities and some more unique ceremonies.
The entire village showcases pioneer settlements dating from the 1790’s all the way through the Gaslight District in the 1920’s.
One of the biggest highlight of Monday’s festivities was the return of the Naturalization Ceremony taking place right on the main stage.
“We have over 800,000 people naturalized across the country every year, and to have it on Independence Day really does make it special,” Sara French, Field Office Director with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, said. “We have representation from 28 different countries today which is extremely great to have that diverse community.”
“Being able to see these buildings that are – some of them are 200 years old – it just ties it all together. It ties together the history of the area and of the country as a whole to people who are still wanting to come here today. Still wanting to come and become citizens and to make this part of their history, as well,” says Becky Wehle, President and CEO of the Genesee Country Village & Museum.
Another big highlight from Monday included the reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the famous Frederick Douglass speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” orated by David Shakes of the North Star Players.
“I am honored to do it. It’s recognized as one of the most important speeches particularly of abolitionists against slavery and towards dignity and equality so it’s important to hear that speech,” he said ahead of the reading. “It’s even greater for me to help deliver that speech and keep those words alive because they’re living words, they are prophetic, they’re relevant to this very day.”
Douglass delivered the notable speech in Rochester, his hometown, on July 5 in 1852 to commemorate the 76th anniversary of signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Some of the countries where our new brothers and sisters are from include Afghanistan, India, Ukraine, and Cuba, to name a few. The naturalization ceremony began with the museum as the host-site back in 2008.
The museum is hosting a Civil War living history weekend on July 23 and 24.