The moment in 1776 when Huntington Town found out that the thirteen colonies declared themselves free of British control was celebrated Sunday afternoon in Huntington.
“Independence Day! Huzzah! Independence Day! Huzzah!” cheered a group of actors re-enacting hearing the news of mid-July 1776, when Huntington learned the United States had been formed.
While the Declaration of Independence was adopted separating the colonies from Britain on July 4, 1776, it took nearly three weeks for the news to reach the town.
During Sunday’s re-enactment, the patriots tore down a hanging British flag, raised an American one, then formed a musket line, firing several celebratory rifle shots followed by two cannon shots.
“This is our history, this is the foundation of our nation. If you don’t know what your history is then you’re kinda lost in your future,” said Patrick Mantle, commander of the Huntington Militia, a re-enactment group that sponsors the annual event. “So preserving and protecting our history is exactly what we’re trying to do here.”
At the peak of the five-hour event, held at the Colonial Arsenal Museum, roughly 100 people stood and listened to the reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Part of the area gave the look of a vintage colony.
On top of a blanket beneath a tree rested items typical of the era — an old rifle and rifle pouch, canteens and a wooden spoon.
Impersonating a German schoolmaster, Kevin O’Malley, 54, of Medford, wore the breeches, stockings, buckled shoes, vest and long sleeves common among ordinary men during that time.
Gene Schmalenberger, 56, of Huntington Station, called the event “fascinating.”
“I’ve always liked events like this that pertain to the history of the United States,” he said. “And coming here seeing the different board games, artists, lectures, scenery and customs is always intriguing.”
Luke Short, 6, of Greenlawn, said he enjoyed the cannons being fired the most.
“I felt like my heart was going to beat out,” said Short, who became interested in history after reading about the Revolutionary War. “At first, I just read a lot of books on history and then got into it,” he said.