Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call

Tomorrow, for the first time in some time, a Powder House Day celebration will happen right where it belongs: on the New Haven Green.

Powder House Day commemorates the moment both New Haven and Connecticut joined the American Revolution. It was April 22, 1775, and news of the Battles of Lexington and Concord had just arrived. As town leaders convened in a tavern to decide New Haven’s response, local militia captain Benedict Arnold mustered and marched his men to the Green, just outside the tavern, where they drilled in a show of commitment to the revolutionary cause. Upon learning of the leaders’ decision to put off a decision, Arnold, with the intimidating strength of the men at his back, forced the town leaders to relinquish the keys to the powder house—the municipal store of gunpowder—then marched his freshly provisioned soldiers north to join the fighting in Massachusetts.

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That sequence helps explain the elements of tomorrow’s reenactment. At 10:30 a.m., members of the now ceremonial Second Company Governor’s Foot Guard, the same regiment as Arnold’s, will “walk across the Green, meet the Mayor and retrieve the Powder House Key.” The troops will then “march to a designated portion of the Green for a battalion review,” when “muskets will be fired.”

The commemoration is part of a much larger “Wake Up the Green” festival arranged by the Green’s somewhat mysterious Proprietors, a committee formed in 1810 to preserve the space’s history while “preventing its commercialization and ensuring that it remains an open and beautiful green space for enjoyment by the community,” according to the website. The day will start at 10 a.m. with the opposite of a musket firing—a yoga session—then make way at 11 for food trucks, a marketplace and a set of tables for community organizations. Among the 11 o’clockers, according to an email we received, will be Swords To Ploughshares, whose mission to reforge guns into gardening tools may be demonstrated onsite. (Guv’s Guard: Hide your weapons.)

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At 12:30 p.m. at the center of the lower Green, the 1928-built World War I monument, its marble, granite and bronze elements now restored, will be rededicated, with local, state and federal officials present. After that, a short but surely bombastic parade powered by the Hillhouse High marching band will stave off any food comas. Finally, from 1 to 4, visitors will find installations and programming including mini golf and pickup volleyball, live music and stilt walking, “giant” Candy Land and Legos, an “activity bus” and a library tent and, in Trinity Church and Center Church, respectively, tours of stained-glass windows and colonial-era graves.

Tired yet? That’s okay. Get a good night’s sleep, then wake up tomorrow ready to Wake Up the Green.

Written by Dan Mims. Photographed by Jon Bilous.

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