By Josette Keelor
Ranger-conducted programs at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park started last weekend in Middletown.
Many of last year's programs will return, including the 30-minute park overview Cedar Creek and Belle Grove "In a Box," the Battle of Cedar Creek Tour, the Civil War Entrenchment Tour and the History at Sunset presentations.
The National Park Service started offering the public programs in 2010, expanding upon them since then. According to Amy Bracewell, site manager of the national historical park, the programs have all been popular in the past.
New this year is the "To Battlefield and Beyond" War Comes to the Shenandoah Valley program, a 45-minute examination of the military campaigns and battles that occurred in the valley and their effect upon the community, a press release from the National Park Service said.
The programs will continue on weekends through spring, daily from mid-June through mid-August and then again on weekends starting in the fall.
With the Civil War's 150th anniversary in October, Bracewell said the national historical park also is preparing sesquicentennial events that could include an education day for area schools, reenactments, a commemoration ceremony, programs showing the aftermath of the war and "real-time" tours.
"People really enjoy following the battle at the time that it took place," Bracewell said. Also, "the park service is working on a lecture series to take place in concert with the anniversary."
The hours at Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, and the park's Visitor Contact Station has new seasonal hours from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
The Hupp's Hill Civil War Park and Visitor Center in Strasburg will continue to operate its regular schedule from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Headquarters will reopen for the season in early April.
All ranger-led programs are free.
"We are looking forward to welcoming our summer visitors back," Bracewell said. "After we all have experienced the long winter, we're looking forward to getting out and about."
"We encourage people to revisit us."
For more information, call 540-869-3051 or visit www.nps.gov/cebe.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org