The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected many local events, but one annual event, the Fort Scott National Historic Site Candlelight Tour has created an online opportunity for the community to enjoy.
“Last spring we began expanding park programming by creating virtual opportunities for visitors including online programs/events and virtual visits,” Carl Brenner, FSNHS Program Manager for Interpretation and Resource Management, said. “As we moved into the fall and began planning for the 39th annual Candlelight Tour, we understand that not everyone is ready to travel. We want to have alternative opportunities and provide an event that was safe and available to those who have traditionally participated and for those who are unable to travel to the park. We hope everyone enjoys our virtual rendition of the Fort Scott Candlelight Tour, Friday, December 4, 2020, at 7 pm on the park’s web page (www.nps.gov/fosc).”
Brenner described the six vignettes that comprise the tour.
- Scene 1-Hospital – Health and Care of the Soldiers. This scene is a depiction of healthcare and hospital conditions on the frontier. Actors in this scene are Skip Thomas and Reed Hartford, with a depiction of sick patients by Aiden Mann and Daxson Ruggero
- Scene 2- Stables – Health and Care of the Horses. Horses were one of the most important tools of the Dragoon soldier. Sometimes horses were treated better than the soldiers. Actors are Brett Dawson, Jericho Jones, and Jesse Dineen.
- Scene 3- Mess Hall – Lifestyle, Comfort, Camaraderie. Enlisted soldiers had a less formal or private life. They ate, slept, and worked in crowded conditions. Actors are Wayne, Dee, and Barrett Young.
- Scene 4-Officers’ Quarters – Lifestyle, Wealth, Comfort. With greater responsibility came greater space, freedoms, and comfort. Actors are George and Diane Bernheimer.
- Scene 5- Quartermaster Storehouse – Supplies, Preparedness, struggles. The Quartermaster, and his staff, kept all aspects of the fort running. They also knew what was really happening on the post. Actors are Barry Geertsen and Frankie Ruggero.
- Scene 6-Guardhouse – Discipline, Law and Order, Punishment. To ensure their soldiers were ready for whatever task they were assigned, discipline was a frequently used motivational tool on the frontier. Actors are Lucas Leininger and Casey Gomez.
The scenes and their introductions are being filmed by Barry Geertsen, Laura Abbott, and Abby Schauer from the park staff.
Brenner gave a little background of how the pandemic is affecting the NPS and Fort Scott in particular.
“We, like many Park Service sites, have experienced a reduction in visitation,” he said. ” We have taken this time to reach out to a broader audience. We continue to develop virtual opportunities for visitors and content for teachers to engage their students. Two such projects include: working with educators to develop curriculum around the Missouri Compromise; and to engage students to research and develop videos around African American heroes from the Fort Scott area.”
The park staff has increased their online presence during the pandemic, Brenner said.
“Sharing park stories through Facebook and Instagram is not new,” he said. “However, we have been increasing these opportunities to share more of the park’s stories and connect with a broader audience.”