Ford Field Park will be filled this weekend with encampments of reenactors from the eras of Pilgrims of Massachusetts Bay, the British redcoats and colonials, and the Civil War Unionists and Confederates. A two-hour concert performance Sunday will climax the We Humble Ourselves® Patriot Weekend in the 37-acre park at 22051 Cherry Hill in Dearborn.
The purpose of the August 29-30 We Humble Ourselves® event is to use audience participation with the music and reenactors to educate on characters in the nation’s history, and celebrate everything good that has set America’s 239-year history apart without ignoring its Christian influence. The weekend event has been planned and coordinated for a year by a group of volunteers from several area churches.
When Dearborn resident Mary Bustamante started writing and producing the event, the project was originally conceived as just a concert on Sunday afternoon, We Humble Ourselves® media liaison Debbie Bloomfield said. However, she said that the mayor of Dearborn took the idea, and asked if reenactors could be used in the event. Ford Field has been used for years in past historical celebrations such as encampments of French-and-Indian War era reenactors in the Rendezvous on the Rouge and Civil War era encampments as part of Dearborn Homecoming’s Living History Hill.
Visitors to the We Humble Ourselves® event will be able to tour the Pilgrim, Colonial and Civil War encampments from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, where they can witness battle training, demonstrations and lectures. There will also be sutler (merchant) tents with souvenirs for sale.
The souvenirs are intended to be appropriate for the event, Bloomfield said, which will include leather pouches imprinted with the fire-branding of the event name We Humble Ourselves®, journals with leather covers, and kitchen cutting boards which also have the burning of We Humble Ourselves® into the wood. As the Friberg Fine Art Co. has given permission to have the famous Bicentennial painting “The Prayer at Valley Forge” by Arnold Friberg (whose family continued his company after his 2010 death) grace the cover of the program booklet, Bloomfield noted the company will also have its own tent selling copies of the image of George Washington kneeling in the snow next to his horse, as well as copies of Friberg’s other artworks.
There will also be t-shirts, mugs, and baseball caps which people can buy to remember the We Humble Ourselves® event. There will also be a welcome tent for veterans (with a special gift for veterans while supplies last), and special seating for them and their families. The event will also present a large map of Michigan so visitors from every city and county of the state can record which place they are representing at the event (officials, religious leaders, and hundreds of education professionals have been invited to the program).
The encampments are to serve as a live backdrop to the stage program. Saturday visitors are welcome the sneak preview from the 3-6 p.m. final dress rehearsal at Ford Field Park, with the sole performance taking place on Sunday from 3-5 p.m. The concert will be performed by volunteers, specially gathered from all over the area for this event, which Bloomfield said will include a 52-piece symphony orchestra, and an 80-voice choral group.
Midway through the concert, the crowd will be roused by two of Michigan’s fife and drum crops, the First Michigan Colonial Fife and Drum Corps. and the Tittabawassee Valley Fife and Drum Corps. There will also be a flyover by the Yankee Air Force from the Willow Run Museum, and a line-up of actors portraying characters from the Nation’s history.
The performance part of the program starts with a Pilgrim explaining life on the Mayflower, and his group’s first years on American soil (William Bradford will be portrayed by local actor Peter Podolski). After skipping 150 years, the program will feature testimonies about the nation’s history from Founders like Thomas Jefferson (portrayed by Steve Endbo, who has performed the character around the Washington D.C. area out of his research as a resident fellow at Monticello’s International Center for Jefferson Studies), Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay.
They will pave the way for George Washington arriving on horseback to cheers of colonial reenactors in the crowd. Washington is portrayed by Dean Malissa, the official George Washington Interpretive Actor from Mount Vernon, Virginia. The Founders’ vignettes of quoting actual speeches and letters will conclude with a fictional speech to Americans of today.
After a short stop in the War of 1812, the performance part of the program will conclude with Abraham Lincoln (played by local actor Fred Priebe) and Frederick Douglass (Jermel Nakia, who has performed worldwide on stage and film) speaking to an audience filled with civil war reenactors. The messages will be interwoven with patriotic songs, but the audiences can participate in the concert by joining in on the sing-a-longs led by the choir and even on a couple of prayers.
The opening orchestra piece by Howard Shore will be the first time it has been performed live as an individual piece (the escalating crescendo of strings and horns accompanied the “Lighting of the Beacons” sequence in the “Return of the King” movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy). The concert finale performed by the singers and symphony orchestra will be the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
The concert audience is encouraged to dress in Pilgrim, colonial or Civil War attire. The program booklet available for purchase at the event will be filled with historical information, quotes from the program, and verses that the audience can sing on cue. Prior to the concert, Malissa will be receiving veterans and other visitors as Gen. George Washington from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The name of this weekend’s event originated from a Bible verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14. Those putting on the event, according to Bloomfield, hope enough interest will be stirred up by the premiere of this concert so it can go on the road to other places nationwide next year.
“We want to help heal the nation by reinvigorating patriotism, and help the person watching the event to understand his country,” Bloomfield said. “We want to increase the awareness that this nation was founded in faith, and God’s hand had been recognized by this country’s founders.”
There will be food available throughout the weekend, as hot dogs and apple pie will be available for purchase at the food pavilion.
“We’ll also be serving halal hot dogs to make our neighbors feel more comfortable, and we welcome them to join us in eating,” Bloomfield said. “Hot dogs and apple pie are American fare, and humble pie is appropriate considering the name of our event.”
There is no fee for admission or parking. Up to 1,000 will be able to park in the Ford Field parking lot near Cherry Hill and Brady, she said, and there will be overflow parking for 500 at the First Presbyterian Church, which will be running a shuttle to Ford Field Park. First Presbyterian and Guardian Lutheran are Dearborn churches participating in the production, Bloomfield said, and Divine Child parish has also been working to support the event (Divine Child Music Director Matthew Simpson has been directing the choral practices).
Father Eduard Perrone of Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit will direct the symphony, and Catherine Zardus will direct the actors’ historic vignettes. Old St. Mary’s in Greektown is another participating church.
To get the full schedule of events, go to the website www.WeHumbleOurselves.com