Custom House Maritime Museum A View of the Museum from Water St.

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George and Honest Abe Return For Encores!

February 22, 2017

President George Washington greets visitors assisted by his shabbily dressed wharf worker assistant

NEWBURYPORT – What could be more appropriate during a Presidents Week school vacation than an educational encounter with historic greats George Washington and Abraham Lincoln?

The Custom House Maritime Museum is hosting a special week for youngsters with presidents, historians, and tour guides on site.

The free event, dubbed Family Fun Days, continues today and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Water Street building.

"With students out of school, we wanted to create an event that would let them learn about the museum, and about history," said Michael Mroz, executive director of the museum.
"It's an opportunity for parents, students and children of every age to learn more about Newburyport maritime history through participation in games and activities."
Organizers brought back Washington in the form of Paul Armstrong, late of Rowley, and Lincoln, portrayed by Peter Tybinkowski, of Boxford.

Museum organizers offered a scavenger hunt and simple quizzes, and youngsters combed the historic stone structure to answer questions, and win prizes such as T-shirts.
For instance, youngsters were asked to look at the two large buoys outside the museum, and answer the question, "Which letters and numbers can be seen on the smaller of the two buoys?"

A question relating to the museum interior asked, "In the large display case, what is the date on the fire buckets?"

Richard Alfoni, a local adult dressed (shabbily) as a wharf worker, said, "This is a good event because it lets youngsters go all over the museum. They can enter every room, and find answers to all sorts of questions."

Students try their hands at knot tying

Many kids were under the age of 10, and their grasp of American history appeared sketchy. But that didn't mean they didn't ask questions.

Two tots asked Lincoln if he would show them his gold pocket watch.
"And I've had a number of kids ask me how tall I am," said Tybinkowski, who is about 6 feet 4. "Lincoln was tall, and with this top hat I am wearing, as he did, the president was a very imposing figure."

Christine Edmonds of Newburyport brought three children, and she said, "When I heard about the event, I thought I'd bring the kids here so they could explore something new. They have enjoyed it."

Donna Osborne of Newburyport, who was shepherding three youngsters all under 10, said, "This is a good day out for us. It's an event that gets them off a screen, and here they can roam to seek answers to the questions that have been prepared."

Also, Mary Beth Pelletier hosted a story-telling time for youngsters interested in listening to nautical tales.

Family Fun Days continue today with events that include an appearance by author Elizabeth Lorayne, who will read from her "Adventures of Piratess Tilly."
President Lincoln will be present, and visitors can watch a marine navigational equipment and tools demonstration.

On Friday, Washington, Lincoln, and Lorayne are scheduled for repeat performances.
Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport. He can be reached at 978-961-3149 or at

Newburyport Daily News

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