Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Ryan

February 24th, 2019 News and Events
Park volunteer Mary Ryan shows how colonists made candles
At George Washington’s 287th birthday party, volunteer Mary Ryan demonstrates how colonists made candles.


Mary Ryan jokes that her colonial outfits are beginning to overwhelm her closet.

She started making them at the suggestion of a manager at the park, who thought that it would enhance the visitors’ experience to see her and some of the Friends of Washington Crossing Park gardening in period clothing.

Mary, who holds a degree in fashion design, began researching. “We wanted to look authentic, so it was very basic, plain clothing,” she says.

That modest undertaking has evolved into a full-fledged sewing circle that includes other Friends volunteers of all abilities.

Mary estimates that she’s been volunteering at Washington Crossing Historic Park for well over 20 years.

“I’m a stakeholder in the park on many levels, including as a neighbor,” she says. “When I first got involved, it wasn’t well cared for, so I tried to do what I could, gardening, picking up branches. When the volunteer group formed, my husband and I put a lot of effort into ensuring the Friends of Washington Crossing Park was developed the right way.”

Today, Mary is content being a historical interpreter for the park’s popular Colonial Days, a field trip program that exposes local students to everyday colonial life.

On one recent occasion, a couple of girls asked about her shoes. Staying in character, she returned the gesture. “Your shoes are quite interesting. Are they comfortable?” Mary asked. “They looked at each other and whispered, ‘She doesn’t know what sneakers are.’ I had to break character and start laughing. It was just so pure and fun.”