John F. Kennedy National Historic Site Kicked off its 41st season with a Weekend of Special Events.
On Friday the site hosted the 2010 "What John F. Kennedy Means to Me" Essay & Poetry Program. The program featured poems written by the third graders of the Edward Devotion School in Brookline, Massachusetts. The poems, composed as part of an intensive, month-long study of JFK that included visits to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, John F. Kennedy National Historic Site, and independent research, expressed how each class felt about JFK. As part of the unit, students wrote essays about what JFK meant to them personally. After an extensive peer review process, the winning essays from each class were announced at the ceremony. Saturday and Sunday the site celebrated what would have been JFK’s 93rd birthday with a free open house. Visitors were treated to birthday cake and lemonade and invited to explore John F. Kennedy’s birthplace. From 1:00 – 4:00pm each afternoon, pianist Benjamin Warsaw played Mrs. Kennedy’s piano, filling the house with music as it would have been during the Kennedy’s time. The weekend was an enthusiastic start to a great season at John F. Kennedy National Historic Site.
A Kennedy Campaign Tea
On Sunday afternoon, July 25, 2010, John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site welcomed over 300 visitors to a Kennedy Campaign Tea. The event coincided with Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy’s birthday, and focused on her life-long involvement in politics. An active political figure throughout her life, Mrs. Kennedy was the daughter of a two-time Mayor of Boston, wife of a U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James (Great Britain), and mother of three Senators and a President. The event featured a special exhibit highlighting the teas Mrs. Kennedy hosted during John F. Kennedy’s successful 1952 campaign for the U.S. Senate. Pianist Karin Bagdarsarian played Mrs. Kennedy’s piano as visitors toured the house. Guests enjoyed ice tea and cookies as they explored the exhibit and listened to a series of Ranger talks. Learn more about the Kennedy Campaign Teas and see photos from the day.
Halloween on Beals Street
A Jelly Fish, a math test, a laundry basket and a pair of baby t-rex dinosaurs all arrived at the John F. Kennedy National Historic Site October 31st as part of our annual Halloween program. The event which included Kenney history and trick-or-treating was a festive closing to a successful season. Rangers took part in neighborhood Halloween festivities in a number of ways. During the day, a display showing the Kennedy children dressed up in their Halloween costumes in the visitor center drew smiles from many. The site also showcased 1952 campaign fashion—a twist on the popular poodle skirt. Instead of a poodle, the skirt features donkeys and other political symbols and is emblazoned with the name John F. Kennedy. The costumed ranger provided additional information about the 1952 Kennedy campaign for Senate and encouraged visitors to think about the political campaign process during the 1950s. That evening, rangers took to the streets for trick-or-treating. Passing out chocolate JFK 50-cent coins, children and adults not only got to enjoy chocolate, but learn as well. Every coin came with a JFK “fun fact,” such as his code name as president, what he wanted to name his baby brother and an unusual present he received from Ireland. (Do you know? Scroll to the bottom of 2010 Highlights for answers.) Between 5 and 8pm, rangers gave away over 1800 chocolate coins. See photos of the event.
Assassination Event Memorial
Last November, John F. Kennedy National Historic Site marked the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Rangers marked the day with an open house, photo exhibit and short documentary film discussing the president’s life and work. At noon, rangers and the public gathered for a simple memorial observance. Following a benediction from Father Richard Butler, Senior Priest at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, Brookline, rangers spoke briefly about John F. Kennedy’s life and read from the speech he was scheduled to give in Dallas. Rangers also placed a floral wreath on the commemorative marker at the front of the house in honor of the fallen president. This wreath laying follows the tradition set forth by Brookline High School students, who, immediately following the 1963 assassination, raised money to purchase a similar wreath which they placed on the marker in front of the 83 Beals Street residence. Memorial activities have been an important part of the residence at 83 Beals Street even before it became a National Park. The event marked the close of the park’s 2010 programming season. John F. Kennedy National Historic Site will reopen its doors to the public in May 2011.
------------------------------------------- Answers to the Halloween Coin Quiz
JFK’s code name as President was Lancer.
Following the birth of one of JFK’s younger brothers on February 22, 1932, JFK wrote his mother with two requests. First, he asked that he be named the baby’s godfather and second, owing to the baby’s birthday, if they could name the baby George Washington Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy responded yes to the first and no to the second, and so the youngest Kennedy boy was named Edward Moore Kennedy instead.
A Connemara pony named Leprechaun.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2009, OUR 40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
Birthday Weekend Open House
The park kicked off its 40th anniversary season on May 29th, marking what would have been John F. Kennedy’s 92nd birthday, with a free open house weekend. During the weekend, more than 1,200 enjoyed birthday cake and period music played on Mrs. Kennedy’s piano by pianist Deborah Wyndham. The weekend also featured new ranger-led walking tours of the Kennedy family’s Brookline neighborhood. Click here to see more photos from the birthday open house.
This past year, with enhanced staffing, the park offered ranger-led walking tours of the neighborhood. Through family stories and historic photographs, visitors explored the landscape, challenges and triumphs that shaped Jack Kennedy’s childhood. Tour highlights included the Edward Devotion School and the Kennedy family’s second Brookline home. The park will continue to offer this popular program during the 2010 season.
Lecture and Book-Signing with Cari Beauchamp, author of Joseph P. Kennedy Presents his Hollywood Years
In September, the park teamed up with the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline Adult & Community Education, and Brookline Booksmith to present a free public lecture and book-signing by Cari Beauchamp, author of Joseph P. Kennedy Presents his Hollywood Years. In her new book, Ms. Beauchamp presents readers with an in-depth look at President Kennedy’s father’s significant involvement in the movie-making industry from the late 1920s to the early 1930s. The event was held at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, the only not-for-profit Art Deco theatre in the Boston area and an important Coolidge Corner landmark that Mrs. Kennedy would have walked by on her daily trips to the local grocery.
Halloween at the Birthplace
Not only is Beals Street home to John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, but the Beals Street neighborhood that was once home to young Jack Kennedy is also a destination site for hundreds of trick-or-treaters and their families each Halloween. This year, with encouragement from neighbors, the park participated in this storied tradition, and trick-or-treaters who made their way to the birthplace were rewarded with chocolate JFK 50¢ coins. During the course of the three-hour event, park rangers gave out more than 1,500 chocolate coins – making this evening event one of the most heavily attended in the 40-year history of the park! Click here to see more photos from Halloween.
Marking the 46th Anniversary of JFK’s Passing
When John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, hundreds gathered at his Brookline birthplace to pay tribute and find comfort. In remembrance, on November 22, 2009 National Park Service staff held a brief memorial ceremony outside the house, joined by visitors and Rabbi Hamilton of Congregation Kehillath Israel. Located one block from the site, Congregation Kehillath Israel was the setting for a memorial service held in honor of President Kennedy on the day of his funeral, November 25, 1963. Rarely seen archival footage of this ceremony was shown following the park’s memorial ceremony.