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Shutdown averted, Minute Man Park sallies forth with Revere ceremony

Posted by Leslie Anderson  April 9, 2011 05:30 PM

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Photos by Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff
Visitors today watched a ceremony at Minuteman National Historical Park commemorating the capture of Paul Revere by British soldiers in 1775.

A ceremony marking the capture of Paul Revere by British soldiers took place as scheduled today at the Minute Man National Historical Park, after a tentative deal by Congressional leaders late last night averted a shutdown of the federal government.

Concord officials had already canceled a 1 p.m. event at Meriam’s Corner because of the threatened shutdown, but the 3 p.m. ‘‘Paul Revere Capture Ceremony’’ took place as planned, park officials said today.

suarez_renactment_Paul_Revere2_MET.jpg"Everybody was in a very festive mood. It was just great," said park superintendent Nancy Nelson afterward. "It's kind of that bond between people and their parks that's really neat to see."

If Congress had failed by midnight to strike a deal to keep the federal government running, nonessential workers, including the park’s rangers, would have been furloughed and the park’s Concord and Lincoln facilities shut down.

The potential crisis came just as Minute Man was preparing for its high season -- two weeks of Patriots Day ceremonies and reenactments commemorating the first battles of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775.

‘‘It is one of our biggest seasons, absolutely. It is the one that is the most ceremonial, and the most colorful, and the most patriotic,’’ Nelson said. ‘‘There are thousands of people who come to the park this weekend and next weekend too, with hundreds of reenactors and living history people who come to our programs.’’

The tentative deal means that everything at the park -- at least for now -- will proceed as planned. The rank and file of Congress must still approve the federal spending plan.

‘‘We’re thrilled and relieved and very happy because these are important events and they signify our history. It’s wonderful to see them go ahead,’’ Nelson said.

Though Concord town officials canceled its ceremony at Meriam’s Corner today, the Meriam House itself was open for tours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For this afternoon’s ‘‘Paul Revere Capture Ceremony,’’ the Lincoln Minute Men held a fife and drum procession from the park's visitors center along Route 2A in Lincoln to the spot where Revere was captured by British soldiers during his famous ride.

Things were also back to normal today at the park’s other visitors center at the North Bridge in Concord, where colonial militias turned back British troops that historic day.

‘‘It’s a beautiful day," said Leslie Obleschuk, chief of interpretation and education for the park. "I arrived this morning to see a group of Boy Scouts doing a musket drill on the front lawn with wooden muskets.’’

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