Thursday, June 07, 2007

That 'Big Boom' in Brooklyn Came from a Cannon - 'Liberty Weekend' Celebration

bhpr especially for churches

Friends of Historic New Utrecht
New Utrecht Reformed Church
New Utrecht Liberty Pole Association


That 'Big Boom' in Brooklyn Came from a Cannon - 'Liberty Weekend' Celebration

BROOKLYN - Historian David Elligers' tour of the quiet, old New Utrecht Cemetery at 16th Ave. and 84th St. stopped for a few seconds until he explained to any who might have wondered what they had just heard. "Oh, that's our cannon," he said, calmly. Indeed, the big boom heard in Brooklyn came from a Civil War cannon on the front lawn of the New Utrecht Reformed Church during the 2007 "Liberty Weekend" celebration in which all American veterans and military men and women serving today were honored. Jeffery Cohen, a re-enactor from Winslow Battery 'D' Artillery, lit the fuse and seconds later was standing in a cloud of smoke. Also on the lawn, at 18th Ave. and 84th St. in Bensonhurst, the InterSchool Orchestra (ISO) Concert Band, conducted by Brian P. Worsdale, entertained.

The day before, re-enactors of the famous 14th Brooklyn Regiment, Co. H, camped out near the cannon. Others seen by hundreds of school children included re-enactors of the British navy. Not far away, in front of the church, stands the "Liberty Pole," the sixth to have been erected on that very spot since the British were driven out in 1783. The cannon was fired as part of tours given for fourth- and fifth-graders and later for other students bused in to the historic site for "living American history" lessons. The school children spoke with and asked questions of the "soldiers" from the American Revolution and Civil War.

The next day, in addition to the tour of the 1654 New Utrecht Cemetery and the encampment of tents with soldiers in authentic uniforms on the lawn, "Liberty Weekend" gave the general public a chance to examine Civil War memorabilia in the New Utrecht Parish House. And at night, as passersby and neighbors gathered in the yard of the church complex, the ISO Band gave rousing renditions of the music of bandmaster and composer of marches John Philip Sousa.

The final day of "Liberty Weekend" began with an all-faiths service in the Parish House, near the main church building which remains closed for a $2 million repair and restoration. All American veterans as far back as the Revolutionary War were honored, with today's military personnel.

An afternoon parade from the church to the cemetery was led by the New Utrecht High School Band. A wreath was placed at the memorial to Revolutionary War Gen. Nathaniel Woodhull, who died of his wounds nearby and is buried on Long Island.

"Liberty Weekend" events ended at the "Liberty Pole," where Boy Scouts and re-enactors placed wreaths in honor of all those who have served to defend America's freedom. Speakers included state Sen. Martin Golden, City Councilman Vincent Gentile and Borough Historian Ron Schweiger, who presented a proclamation from Borough President Marty Markowitz on the pole's 224th anniversary. And again, for a final time this year, the cannon was fired.

Coordinator of "Liberty Weekend" was Angela Sarro of the local historic organization Friends of Historic New Utrecht. The events were supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation.

More information about Brooklyn's early history, the village of New Utrecht, is available from the Friends of Historic New Utrecht at 1-718-256-7173 and at or by sending inquiries to

bhpr especially for churches services donated. June '07


Post a Comment

<< Home