A Civil War Christmas in Oakdale

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The Oakdale Historical Society is hosting its third annual Civil War Christmas next month at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Maryann Almes, the historical society’s president, said the original idea was the brainchild of Islip Town historian George Munkenbeck. 

“His vision was to unite some of the many historical organizations in the area in a comprehensive event,” Almes said. 

Similar events have been done before, she noted, but the nationally landmarked St. John’s Church provided a unique opportunity to place the event in a historically appropriate and significant home. She also gave a little-known fact that the British briefly utilized the historic church during the Civil War period. 

The historical society’s president credits Munkenbeck, an avid member of reenactment groups, with securing the help of numerous volunteer organizations, including the 67th New York Volunteer Infantry; 14th Brooklyn New York State Militia; and the Society of the Grand Army of the Republic, Richard J. Clark Post No. 210. 

“The addition of these groups to the event added the flavor of the time period, as they brought with them campsites and historically correct uniformed soldiers and civilians,” Almes said. “The uniforms and campsites are the property of the reenactors.”

The Islip Arts Council was soon asked to join the event. The arts council will add historically correct musical accompaniment, while the Bay Area Friends of the Fine Arts will provide a costumed choir and lead the event’s tree lighting. BAFFA has also researched each song, ensuring that it is in the correct time period. They will provide a brief background before singing. 

Each year, Almes said the historical society looks to integrate young people into the event. There will be ornament decorating and impromptu tours of the cemetery and church. St. Nicholas will also be on-site. 

The event is free to the public, but donations are accepted. For the first time, the historical society is asking for a donation of non-perishable food items for the needy.

The Oakdale Historical Society’s third annual Civil War Christmas is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 14. The event begins at 3:30 p.m. and concludes with a historically accurate Civil War Christmas service, which starts at 7:30 p.m.

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