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Signers of the time

Event: Residents re-enact the creation of the U.S. Constitution

Posted: September 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.

David Schlumpberger, 6, puts on the three-cornered hat of his father, Dana Schlumpberger, during the recreation of the Constitutional Convention on Saturday.

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From fifes, drums and curly white wigs to aged and personally signed copies of the Constitution of the United States, Saturday was a step back in time for the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley.

From the time James Madison — re-enacted by Joe Messina — took the stage and posed the question “Why did we need a convention?” to the close of morning ceremonies, when the Los Angeles Fifes & Drums crested a small hill into West Creek Community Park, the United States Constitution was everywhere.

Women in big puffy dresses wearing bonnets and men in leather vests wearing white wigs crisscrossed the park as a full range of family activities unfolded under shaded canopies.

Children coloring under one canopy were asked why their work station included no green and yellow crayons.

“Because these are the colors of our flag,” said 9-year-old Naleah, pointing to a plastic container filled with red, white and blue crayons.

Standing at her elbow was her grandfather in a period costume of knee-length trousers and matching vest.

“What do kids ask me most? That would be, ‘What character are you?’” Jerry Mayes said.

His answer to them was: John Blair, representing the state of Virginia at the time the Constitution was signed.

Like a rock show or film premiere, the first Constitution Day Summit came with its own promotional handout items, including: T-shirts emblazoned with a Constitution excerpt; handheld flags; yo-yos bearing the Stars and Stripes;
gumball-sized balls of red, white and blue; and, topping that list, pamphlet-bound copies of the Constitution.

How many attendees confessed not having read it?

“Quite a few,” said a woman at the information booth. “You’d be surprised.”

Event promoters billed the event: “Join us as we step back in time to a Sept. 17, 1787 state of mind.”

To that end, they escorted the Constitution curious — mainly children — through a “village” of foldable, blue canopies representing colonies that made up the original 13 United States.

Participants had their copies of the Constitution signed by someone representing each of the original signatories of the document, then they were invited to get their copies “aged” at a nearby tent.

“Colonial Jane” — aka Patti Crossley — sprayed each copy of the Constitution with coffee, then hung each one out to dry in the sun for an antique finish.

“It makes it look weathered,” Crossley said.

“Right now, it’s slowed down a bit,” she said about visitors to her “weatherizing” section at mid-afternoon. “For a while there, everything was full around here. About 200 people attended the event.

While waiting as copies of the Constitution baked in the sun, the holders of the documents were treated to skits on stage ,such as “Writing a Constitution,” “Quotes from Ambassador Thomas Jefferson” and excerpts from Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”

Meantime, the music of the Los Angeles Fifes and Drums played.

“We started out as colonial and Eastern Seaboard music,” drummer John Davis said, explaining the roots of the music as a musical military series of codes for battle deployment used around the time the Constitution was signed.

Those sounds clearly echoed throughout West Creek Community Park as the events came to a close in the late afternoon.

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