Volunteers found an interesting document as they were working on the 2015 Battle of New Orleans bicentennial commemoration: a Louisiana House resolution passed 100 years before during the battle’s centennial, lamenting that too many in the state didn’t know the facts of the event and calling for more education on the famous battle.
A century later, and a year after the massive bicentennial celebration that brought nearly 1,600 to replay the battle, that effort to education and engage the public continues, said military historian and Louisiana Living History Foundation president Tim Pickles.
Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve — custodian of the Chalmette Battlefield — is collaborating with the Louisiana Living History Foundation and Nunez Community College to present a re-enactment, an academic symposium, a tribute and a number of family-friendly programs — Thursday through Sunday in remembrance of the War of 1812 battle.
The events kick off Thursday at 10:30 a.m. with the fourth annual Battle of New Orleans Historical Symposium at Nunez Community College, 3710 Paris Road, Chalmette. The symposium features speakers, scholars and historical artifacts and runs until 4 p.m.
The battlefield, 8606 W. St. Bernard Highway, will offer crafts and activities for families who want to discover the challenges and freedoms of life in 1815. Visitors can try their hand at spinning wool, making a fire, tanning a hide and loading a cannon or musket, Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The hands-on activities were a big hit when they were introduced last year, said park ranger and Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve Public Information Officer Kristy Wallisch.
“People will be able to try things like spinning wool, singing along with the sea shanty crew and so forth,” Wallisch said. “It really gives you a flavor for what life was like back in the day.”
Friday also features the Dec. 23, 1814, night battle, re-enacted at the Meraux Living History Park, a 25-acre private site at 8207 Patricia St. adjacent to Torres Park and behind Wal-Mart. Admission is $5.
“Such things (battle re-enactments) are not allowed on national battlefields,” Pickles said. “This is why for the bicentennial we had to create a completely new and separate site.”
The next night, a documentary titled “Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On” will play at the Docville Farm, 5124 E. St. Bernard Highway, Violet. The film is about the bicentennial and the many re-enactors who showed up from around the world to participate in the battle re-enactment.
The film tells in an hour and a half the full story of what it took to pull the massive event together, while displaying some spectacular scenes of what the “soldiers” did on the field in January of last year.
The event wraps up with another symposium Sunday at Nunez Community College Auditorium. Wallisch expects about 5,000 people over the four days.
All events are free except the re-enactment, which is $5. For Nunez Community College Symposium speaker details or to look into the activities on the park, visit www.nps.gov/jela.
For more information about the re-enactment, visit lalivinghistoryfoundation.com.