The U.S. National Park Service is making a push to increase attendance, not limit it.
So, Nathan Souder, who has only been acting superintendent of DeSoto National Memorial in Bradenton for about a week, was quite alarmed Monday when people began called him upset that they read on the park’s Facebook page that visitors to Saturday and Sunday’s upcoming free “Five Centuries of Florida History Weekend” were required to notify park officials that they planned to attend, due to National Park Service rules.
The confusion occurred because the message was meant for reenactors, a word mistakenly left out of the Facebook post, Souder said Monday.
“Since the reenactors are our volunteers, we need them to contact us before coming to the event to understand who they are and what they are bringing with them,” Souder said. “It’s really to reduce liability for them and us.”
“But the public thought it was for them,” Souder added. “It created a lot of confusion. It showed that people care, which is great.”
Looking at a cup half full, Souder hopes the confusion will now increase awareness to the event, in which the reenactors, who are experts on their time period, will attempt to bring Florida’s history to life.
“I think this event will enrich anyone who lives here,” Souder said. “It will make you appreciate where we came from to get here now.”
Time periods offered for study include pre-historic Florida, a Civil War encampment complete with soldiers from the North and South, World War I and II soldiers from Florida, Spanish conquistadors and 19th century craftsmen, DeSoto spokesman Daniel Stephens said.
“These great living historians will talk about life in their times,” Stephens said. “People will experience the roar of cannons and the fire of muskets.”
Soldiers and craftsmen in the event will demonstrate each weapon and tool and explain how each was used in its time, Stephens added.
These great living historians will talk about life in their times. People will experience the roar of cannons and the fire of muskets.
Daniel Stephens, DeSoto National Memorial spokesman
DeSoto National Memorial also wanted “Centuries” to be engaging for kids, Stephens said.
DeSoto National Memorial Park Rangers will be out with special Junior Ranger activities.
“We invite the kids to come out in their own costumes from their favorite time periods,” Stephens said. “They can become stars on the parks’ official Facebook and Twitter accounts and receive a special prize. There will be many activities during the day. We will keep them busy.”
“Throughout the day, reenactors will share true accounts of how children shaped history, from drummer boys in the Civil War to resistance fighters in the liberation of France during World War II,” Stephens added.
If you go
What: Five Centuries of Florida History Weekend
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 25-26
Where: DeSoto National Memorial, 8300 De Soto Memorial Hwy, Bradenton
Admission: All activites are free; there will be food vendors at the event