Park volunteer Joan Lindenau grew up only blocks away from Independence Mall. She and her family used to walk their dogs past the Liberty Bell most nights.
That’s why volunteering for the Friends of Washington Crossing Park was like reaching for a touchstone after Joan and her husband moved back to Bucks County following five years in Hawaii.
Both Joan and her husband like to volunteer for all the major events at the park, including Washington’s birthday party in February, Autumn Market and Encampment in October, and the crossing reenactment in December, among others.
In between, Joan also volunteers as a historical interpreter for the Friends’ Colonial Days, an educational program where students are exposed to different aspects of colonial life at the park.
“I love working with the kids,” she says. “It’s nice to see them put away their cell phones and appreciate what went on back then.”
Joan is partial to fall at the park because it lends an urgency to her narratives. “The concept of running out of food or even light is totally foreign to the kids,” she says. “Hearing that brings them a little closer to walking in the colonists’ shoes.”
Dressing in character has the same effect on Joan. In fact, she says that learning about the clothing from the period—and learning how to make it—has been one of her most interesting discoveries during her two years as a volunteer at the park.
“It’s so different, especially the women’s clothes,” she says. “It’s constructed on the body. There are different pieces for the skirt, and the gown is pinned to the bodice. If you don’t pin everything just right, the clothes literally fall right off.”