Pok-o-MacCready event brings history to life

WILLSBORO - A program offered at Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center will help participants learn about a fascinating period in local history by allowing them a unique chance to experience it for themselves.

The facility will host its annual Underground Railroad event Friday, Nov. 12, from 6:30-9 p.m. where people of all ages can step back in time as escaped slaves trying to make their way through New York to freedom in Canada.

Participants will make their way through the grounds of the nearby 1812 Homestead, a living history museum with which the summer camp is affiliated.

Meanwhile, Pok-O-MacCready staff will don 1850s-style costumes to take on the roles of bounty hunters, townspeople, magistrates, and abolitionists, all of whom will have a deciding impact on the fate of the "fugitives."

Pok-O-MacCready has produced the one-day event each year since 2003 for the youth participating in its programming.

"It's a very polished program," said outdoor education director Stites McDaniel, adding last year was the first time the Underground Railroad event was opened up to the general public.

Through the controlled scenario, participants experience first-hand what it was like to avoid would-be captors or be captured by bounty hunters. Lessons about famous abolitionists, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and the North Country's role in the pathway to freedom are ingrained in the activity.

Many school and youth groups have participated in the Underground Railroad event in past years.

"It's a tool for them to supplement what they teach in the classroom," said instructor Whitney Johnson.

The event is also a favorite among Pok-O-MacCready staff, who enjoy the opportunity to interact with both children and adults through their historic roles.

"It's kind of a departure from what we normally do," said instructor Alex Mihavics. "It's fun for us to see how the kids react."

Admission for the event is $5 per person, and all ages are welcome. For more information, call 963-7967 or visit www.pmoec.org.

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