Follow the North Star is a very popular program at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. Offered twice a year, participants spend an evening in the shoes of runaway slaves from the 19th-century. Since I haven't yet taken part in Follow the North Star, I asked Kimberly Coon from Conner Prairie to share her insights in today's post: While I was growing up in Michigan, my family did a lot of camping, which also meant a lot of star-gazing. For awhile, my sister was really into astronomy and could point out different constellations and tell us why the moon was this way or that. I, on the other hand, could only ever find the Big Dipper, and never thought of the stars as much more than the perfect backdrop for a night around the campfire. A whirlwind night through Conner Prairie's Follow the North Star last fall, however, made me think twice about those very stars. Since I work at Conner Prairie, I went through the program as part of a photo shoot, stepping into the role of a runaway slave for one evening. The stories of runaway slaves, following the North Star, running for freedom, persevering in a quest for a new life, have never been more real. Along the way, we encountered people who wanted to support us in our journey to be a Quaker family, sympathetic and helpful, and those who wanted to send us back where we came from - slave hunters. We saw fear in the eyes of a farm wife, afraid to be caught helping slaves, and hope in the eyes of a fellow runaway who shared stories of encouragement and optimism. Follow the North Star is not for everyone - participants should be prepared to take on the role of a runaway slave, from walking outside on rough terrain in all kinds of weather to being told to keep their eyes focused downward and being spoken to in an abrupt manner. But if you are prepared for that, Follow the North Star will open your eyes to one of the most compelling periods in Indiana's history.
The program runs April 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24, lasts about 90 minutes and begins from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Reservations are required, so call Conner Prairie Guest Services at 317.776.6006 or 800.966.1836 to sign up today. Cost is $19/person ($16/member).
-Kimberly Coon, Marketing Assistant for Conner Prairie Interactive History Park