By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Whether Holiday Nights at The Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village is an annual tradition or a first-time visit, the sights and sounds of Christmas celebrations of yesteryear are a cherished treat.
Musicians make the evening special, from the carolers at the Sir John Bennett clock tower, town hall and gazebo near the covered bridge, to the Dodworth Saxhorn Band at rotating locations. An organist plays in the Martha-Mary Chapel, while local musician Ranka Mulkern plays the hammered dulcimer inside the Taste of History restaurant.
Next to the Farris Windmill, a bonfire provides warmth while the First Michigan Colonial Fife and Drum Corps offers lilting melodies.
Ready for a ride? Try a Model T trip around one side of the village, or a horse drawn wagon ride around the other end, with caroling included.
Santa reigns supreme and socially-distanced from the balcony of the Robert Frost house, and the jolly old elf’s helpers have a clever way of learning and passing on to St. Nick the names of children visiting on the lawn, so he may greet them personally from his perch.
When one’s worked up an appetite, there are sit-down options, such as Taste of History, as well as grab-and-go options from food trucks and concession stands, selling hot sandwiches, sides and desserts. Caramel popcorn and candied nuts are a delicious option. If you like French fries, Touch of Honey’s servings are made fresh, and are superb.
Holiday Nights is best savored at a meandering pace: Stop and chat with the re-enactors. Learn about how early chocolate beverages were prepared at the Giddings family home. Talk with a shopkeeper at the general store or the hat shop.
Listen to the stories at the Susquehanna Plantation, and visit the World War II-era Red Cross hospitality station.
Don’t overlook the model trains inside the Lodge, just east of the carousel. Stop by the bonfire near the Logan County Courthouse and listen to a troubadour bring to life “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
Fireworks close out the evening, partly to get guests to leave the village by the 10 p.m. closing. They aren’t meant to be an extravaganza, but more of a festive farewell to the evening’s fun.
Stepping back in time, wandering through the village, and stopping to listen to musicians and re-enactors makes the experience special. Warm clothing and comfortable shoes are highly recommended.
This year’s Holiday Nights are sold out. For more information about events at The Henry Ford, go to thehenryford.org.