This holiday season, visitors to the Rocky Mount Historic Site will get to see the historic property in a whole new light.
The candlelight Christmas tour, now in its 31st year, leads visitors through the historic site during the early evening. Instead of the usual tour through a typical day in the farming life of the Cobb family, this holiday tour takes visitors to a celebration in the year 1791.
“This is one of the few times that we take people out to the historic site at night,” said Rocky Mount’s education director, T.J. DeWitt. “The light of the candles, the light of the fire – it puts a completely different atmosphere on the site.”
The tour recreates the Christmas celebration of 1791 with the Cobbs, the family that originally built Rocky Mount. The year 1791 was an important one for the Cobbs, as they had special company for that year’s festivities – the governor of the Southwest Territory, William Blount, who arrived at Rocky Mount just a few days before Christmas Eve.
DeWitt said one of the goals of the candlelight Christmas event is to show Christmas as it was celebrated before widespread commercialization, providing a snapshot of the festivities one might encounter during this time. The site will be fully decked out in holiday decorations by the beginning of December, giving visitors throughout the month a taste of the celebration even when they aren’t on one of the candlelight tours.
According to DeWitt, though, there really is something special about the site when the sun sinks low and the fire starts to crackle.
“The candlelight really does change how things look. It gives a warmth to the site, even if it’s 30 degrees out,” he said.
Visitors can sign up to participate in a tour on Dec. 6, 7, 13 or 14, between 4:30 and 8 p.m. DeWitt recommends signing up in advance, as reservations have been necessary in recent years. He says that close to 900 visitors took part in the celebration last year.
Rocky Mount relies on a core group of dedicated volunteers for its historic interpretations, which usually cover daily life in the 1790’s and traditional homesteading practices. DeWitt says that anyone interested in contributing some of their time to the site can visit them online at www.rockymountmuseum.com to find out more about volunteering opportunities.
Rocky Mount is located at 200 Hyder Hill Road, Piney Flats. For more information, call 538-7396.