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Archive for January 2013

3

Joseph McGill and Company A, 54th Massachusetts Reenactment Regiment March in Inaugural Parade

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#FFCC00fadetrue

Inaugural Parade

Immersing myself in matters of history is second nature. More specifically, matters of African American history are on my short list of things I enjoy engaging in the most. To that end, I often have to be reminded that some of those matters of history of which I indulge are much bigger than me therefore they should be shared with an audience that wishes to know more about African American history. Through this blog you have been reading about The Slave Dwelling Project one of my deep indulgence into the extant places where enslaved African American lived, so deep that I have spent a night in thirty eight of these dwellings in twelve states since 2010. My publisher alerted me that I was about to engage in something rare that current and future followers of the blog might also be interested.

My other delve into African American history is that for over 20 years, I have been a Civil War reenactor. My Civil War reenacting group is Company I, 54th Massachusetts Reenactment Regiment. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was one of the first African American Civil War units raised in the north and was portrayed in the academy award winning movie Glory in 1989. Being one of few African American Civil War reenactors in the United States, we represent approximately 200,000 African Americans that served the Union Army and Navy during the American Civil War. It was this affiliation that got me an invitation to march in the presidential inaugural parade that occurred on the Martin Luther King holiday on January 21, 2013. I would march with Company A, my fellow Civil War reenactors from Boston, Massachusetts.

The opportunity to march in the parade was not unique for I had done the very same thing four years prior with the same group. That experience taught me to prepare better for the occasion. My new brogans that I ordered for the occasion had gotten within a few miles from my home before UPS shipped them back to the sender because they could not figure out my address. The time that I received them only gave me a week to start the breaking in process which required me to wear them to work at Magnolia Plantation one day. I shined my brass and had the buttons sewn on my Civil War uniform and the pants hemmed accordingly. From the sporting goods store, I purchased hand and toe warmers. While packing for the trip, I discovered that my thermal underwear was insufficient for what I was about to experience therefore I had to purchase more. I recalled in 2009 standing in the below freezing cold for two hours waiting for the parade to begin so this time I would arm myself with snacks aplenty.

When I arrived in Washington, DC at the designated place to stay late in the evening of Saturday, January 19, the gentlemen from Boston were already there. Our host, Frank Smith, President of the African American Civil War Museum found a row house in a nice neighborhood that we could rent for the occasion. To my surprise, it would not be necessary for me to spread my sleeping bag on the floor because an army unit provided cots for all the men and women staying in the house. The only challenge would be everyone sharing the one rest room that was in the house. To that end, ten minute time limits had to be established and I chose the first slot at 4:00 am. Upon seeing Company A, we picked up where we left off because more than half of the guys participated in the inaugural parade four years earlier. That night some of us attempted to go to the world famous Ben’s Chili Bowl but were in for a rude awakening when we saw the line of people who got there before us.

Sunday, January 20 was packed with activities. An early morning muster gave us an indication of how we would function as a group. Our formation brought from the neighborhood various onlookers, picture takers and inquirers. Breakfast was prepared by an Elk’s lodge located two doors from the house where we stayed. We then proceeded in a loose formation to the African American Civil War Monument, 1925 Vermont Avenue NW, where we drilled and interacted with spectators.

The entrance to the African American Civil War Museum, 1925 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

After the drill session, we went across the street to the Civil War Museum where we listened to a rousing and informative lecture about African Americans in the Civil War given by the museum curator Hari Jones. We were then shuttled over to 18th Street and Columbia Road to participate in the Slavery to Freedom in Adams Morgan Walking Tour. One stop on the tour was the site of John Little Manor House. Mr. Little was a cattle farmer who owned slaves. The tour concluded at the African American and Quaker cemeteries at Walker Pierce Park. Several African American Civil War soldiers and sailors are buried there.

Enjoying chicken wings and french fries at the Elks lodge while watching the New England Patriots versus Baltimore Ravens football game

That night we all gathered at the Elk’s Lodge to watch the New England Patriots versus the Baltimore Ravens. It was a precarious situation for me because being so close to Baltimore, Maryland, I was hanging with guys from Boston so I governed my actions accordingly. French fries, chicken wings and beer made the gathering more memorable. Needless to say, the result of the game was not favorable for my colleagues from Boston.

Monday, January 21, Dr. Martin Luther King’s holiday, the day of the inauguration, we all mustered outside at 5:00 am for inspection. While outside we discovered that a special guest would join us. Accompanying Company A in the parade would be the honorable Michael Crutcher who would portray Frederick Douglass. Douglass, who was instrumental in convincing Abraham Lincoln to recruit Black soldiers for the Union cause, had two sons , Charles and Lewis, who were members of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. The bus that would take us to the Pentagon for processing would not arrive for another hour or so which gave us some time to relax. On the bus ride that seemed to have taken almost an hour, we finally arrived at the Pentagon where again we had to wait. Having been preprocessed by providing our social security numbers and a photograph at least two weeks prior, the physical processing went a lot more smoothly than 4 years prior.

Muster outside of the row house on the morning of the inaugural parade

Knowing that our functional Civil War muskets had to be disabled, most of the men had already done this by removing the nipple from their weapon. For those whose nipple could not be removed, a tooth pick was inserted into it and broken off. The rest of the process mirrored that of what one would encounter at an airport before boarding a plane. After processing and before we got back on the bus, I along with a member of Company A was chosen to do live interviews for ABC News and NPR. Unfortunately, when we finally got to the interview area, other parade participants were being interviewed and were not finished before we were ordered to be escorted back to our group to board our bus that would take us to the staging area.

Up Pennsylvania Avenue

I recalled that four years prior that bus ride gave us a great view of the magnitude of the crowd that was in Washington, DC for the inauguration. That was not the case this year but we did go past the new Martin Luther King Monument which gave everyone on the bus an opportunity to reflect on the significance of the day. At the staging area, one Civil War reenactor from Philadelphia who did not get processed at the Pentagon tried to join the ranks. He was not with us one minute before security pounced and removed him from our ranks so he could not join us in the staging area tent. Activities inside the tent were more organized than four years prior, there was a big TV screen that allowed everyone to see the inauguration process. We were seated next to Company B, other African American Civil War reenactors from Washington, DC. It became obvious to many of us in the ranks that we all should be marching together but we were not the decision makers. There were groups galore inside the tent but we were advised to stay together and not roam alone.

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#FFCC00fadetrue

54th Mass Company A Marches in Inaugural Parade. Photos Courtesy of Bernice Bennett

After what seemed like hours, we finally went outside to take our position for the parade. Interestingly, the gentleman who could not join us in the tent found his way back to our ranks and was placed right beside me which made me a little nervous. When the procession began to move, I was impressed because four years prior it took hours before we moved. And then we stopped, the memory of standing for hours in the cold four years earlier came rushing back. After a series of starts and stops, we began to move along at a constant pace. The spectators along the parade route were much more abundant than four years prior. Every one hundred yards or so, an announcer would make known to the crowd what unit was approaching. About half way into the parade, the older gentlemen in the group began to waiver. The series of command for repositioning our weapons were getting pointless as every position became painful.

And there it was, the presidential reviewing stand. Being on the extreme left of the formation, the side closest to the president, I was forewarned that when the command eyes left was given I had to continue to look forward to maintain the decorum of the formation. Knowing this I had to get a good look at the Commander in Chief as we approached and before the command was given. As we passed the presidential enclosure, everyone in the formation, despite their age and physical condition seemed to disregard the pain that they were enduring. Once the formation passed the presidential enclosure, it was apparent that we all lost our swagger and stamina but there were still people along the route and we had to perform accordingly for an additional two hundred yards or so.

Finally, we got to the busses where we could break the formation. After receiving the order to proceed in a loose formation to the bus, our headcount revealed that two members did not make it to the end. Provisions for such an occurrence had already been made and the two men had been transported to the bus and were there before the rest of us got there. Later that night, I would decline the opportunity to hang out with some of the younger guys as they would again attempt to go to Ben’s Chili Bowl. I stayed in the house with the older group and we all ordered a pizza. When the younger group returned, they let me know that this time they were successful in getting into Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Tuesday, January 22, the day after the march, I awoke and checked the weather and discovered it was 20 degrees and only going to reach 23 degrees that day. I gave thanks that the inaugural parade occurred the day before when it was 25 degrees warmer. I was also thankful that I was going to put 516 miles of south between me and Washington, DC while the guys from Company A were going in the opposite direction into colder weather. Before I left, I had to again thank Company A for letting me join them for the second inaugural parade for first African American president of the United States. I vowed to them that I will prepare a place for them in Charleston, SC when they come during the week of July, 14 – 21, 2013 to participate in the 150th Anniversary of the Assault on Batter Wagner, the battle that was depicted in the movie Glory.

The institution of slavery suppressed our ancestors by denying them the opportunity to be educated. Any evidence of the enslaved being educated could meet with harsh punishment. One cumulative result is that African Americans have been playing catch up in recording our own history. To that end, a lot of African American history that should have been recorded has gone to the grave with some of our ancestors. I hereby thank my blog publisher for reminding me that I do have an audience and that some of the things that I do that I take for granted are worthy of being shared with that audience.

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Joseph McGill and Company A, 54th Massachusetts Reenactment Regiment March in Inaugural Parade

  • 0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
#FFCC00fadetrue

Inaugural Parade

Immersing myself in matters of history is second nature. More specifically, matters of African American history are on my short list of things I enjoy engaging in the most. To that end, I often have to be reminded that some of those matters of history of which I indulge are much bigger than me therefore they should be shared with an audience that wishes to know more about African American history. Through this blog you have been reading about The Slave Dwelling Project one of my deep indulgence into the extant places where enslaved African American lived, so deep that I have spent a night in thirty eight of these dwellings in twelve states since 2010. My publisher alerted me that I was about to engage in something rare that current and future followers of the blog might also be interested.

My other delve into African American history is that for over 20 years, I have been a Civil War reenactor. My Civil War reenacting group is Company I, 54th Massachusetts Reenactment Regiment. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was one of the first African American Civil War units raised in the north and was portrayed in the academy award winning movie Glory in 1989. Being one of few African American Civil War reenactors in the United States, we represent approximately 200,000 African Americans that served the Union Army and Navy during the American Civil War. It was this affiliation that got me an invitation to march in the presidential inaugural parade that occurred on the Martin Luther King holiday on January 21, 2013. I would march with Company A, my fellow Civil War reenactors from Boston, Massachusetts.

The opportunity to march in the parade was not unique for I had done the very same thing four years prior with the same group. That experience taught me to prepare better for the occasion. My new brogans that I ordered for the occasion had gotten within a few miles from my home before UPS shipped them back to the sender because they could not figure out my address. The time that I received them only gave me a week to start the breaking in process which required me to wear them to work at Magnolia Plantation one day. I shined my brass and had the buttons sewn on my Civil War uniform and the pants hemmed accordingly. From the sporting goods store, I purchased hand and toe warmers. While packing for the trip, I discovered that my thermal underwear was insufficient for what I was about to experience therefore I had to purchase more. I recalled in 2009 standing in the below freezing cold for two hours waiting for the parade to begin so this time I would arm myself with snacks aplenty.

When I arrived in Washington, DC at the designated place to stay late in the evening of Saturday, January 19, the gentlemen from Boston were already there. Our host, Frank Smith, President of the African American Civil War Museum found a row house in a nice neighborhood that we could rent for the occasion. To my surprise, it would not be necessary for me to spread my sleeping bag on the floor because an army unit provided cots for all the men and women staying in the house. The only challenge would be everyone sharing the one rest room that was in the house. To that end, ten minute time limits had to be established and I chose the first slot at 4:00 am. Upon seeing Company A, we picked up where we left off because more than half of the guys participated in the inaugural parade four years earlier. That night some of us attempted to go to the world famous Ben’s Chili Bowl but were in for a rude awakening when we saw the line of people who got there before us.

Sunday, January 20 was packed with activities. An early morning muster gave us an indication of how we would function as a group. Our formation brought from the neighborhood various onlookers, picture takers and inquirers. Breakfast was prepared by an Elk’s lodge located two doors from the house where we stayed. We then proceeded in a loose formation to the African American Civil War Monument, 1925 Vermont Avenue NW, where we drilled and interacted with spectators.

The entrance to the African American Civil War Museum, 1925 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

After the drill session, we went across the street to the Civil War Museum where we listened to a rousing and informative lecture about African Americans in the Civil War given by the museum curator Hari Jones. We were then shuttled over to 18th Street and Columbia Road to participate in the Slavery to Freedom in Adams Morgan Walking Tour. One stop on the tour was the site of John Little Manor House. Mr. Little was a cattle farmer who owned slaves. The tour concluded at the African American and Quaker cemeteries at Walker Pierce Park. Several African American Civil War soldiers and sailors are buried there.

Enjoying chicken wings and french fries at the Elks lodge while watching the New England Patriots versus Baltimore Ravens football game

That night we all gathered at the Elk’s Lodge to watch the New England Patriots versus the Baltimore Ravens. It was a precarious situation for me because being so close to Baltimore, Maryland, I was hanging with guys from Boston so I governed my actions accordingly. French fries, chicken wings and beer made the gathering more memorable. Needless to say, the result of the game was not favorable for my colleagues from Boston.

Monday, January 21, Dr. Martin Luther King’s holiday, the day of the inauguration, we all mustered outside at 5:00 am for inspection. The bus that would take us to the Pentagon for processing would not arrive for another hour or so which gave us some time to relax. On the bus ride that seemed to have taken almost an hour, we finally arrived at the Pentagon where again we had to wait. Having been preprocessed by providing our social security numbers and a photograph at least two weeks prior, the physical processing went a lot more smoothly than 4 years prior.

Muster outside of the row house on the morning of the inaugural parade

Knowing that our functional Civil War muskets had to be disabled, most of the men had already done this by removing the nipple from their weapon. For those whose nipple could not be removed, a tooth pick was inserted into it and broken off. The rest of the process mirrored that of what one would encounter at an airport before boarding a plane. After processing and before we got back on the bus, I along with a member of Company A was chosen to do live interviews for ABC News and NPR. Unfortunately, when we finally got to the interview area, other parade participants were being interviewed and were not finished before we were ordered to be escorted back to our group to board our bus that would take us to the staging area.

Up Pennsylvania Avenue

I recalled that four years prior that bus ride gave us a great view of the magnitude of the crowd that was in Washington, DC for the inauguration. That was not the case this year but we did go past the new Martin Luther King Monument which gave everyone on the bus an opportunity to reflect on the significance of the day. At the staging area, one Civil War reenactor from Philadelphia who did not get processed at the Pentagon tried to join the ranks. He was not with us one minute before security pounced and removed him from our ranks so he could not join us in the staging area tent. Activities inside the tent were more organized than four years prior, there was a big TV screen that allowed everyone to see the inauguration process. We were seated next to Company B, other African American Civil War reenactors from Washington, DC. It became obvious to many of us in the ranks that we all should be marching together but we were not the decision makers. There were groups galore inside the tent but we were advised to stay together and not roam alone.

  • 0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
#FFCC00fadetrue

54th Mass Company A Marches in Inaugural Parade. Photos Courtesy of Bernice Bennett

After what seemed like hours, we finally went outside to take our position for the parade. Interestingly, the gentleman who could not join us in the tent found his way back to our ranks and was placed right beside me which made me a little nervous. When the procession began to move, I was impressed because four years prior it took hours before we moved. And then we stopped, the memory of standing for hours in the cold four years earlier came rushing back. After a series of starts and stops, we began to move along at a constant pace. The spectators along the parade route were much more abundant than four years prior. Every one hundred yards or so, an announcer would make known to the crowd what unit was approaching. About half way into the parade, the older gentlemen in the group began to waiver. The series of command for repositioning our weapons were getting pointless as every position became painful.

And there it was, the presidential reviewing stand. Being on the extreme left of the formation, the side closest to the president, I was forewarned that when the command eyes left was given I had to continue to look forward to maintain the decorum of the formation. Knowing this I had to get a good look at the Commander in Chief as we approached and before the command was given. As we passed the presidential enclosure, everyone in the formation, despite their age and physical condition seemed to disregard the pain that they were enduring. Once the formation passed the presidential enclosure, it was apparent that we all lost our swagger and stamina but there were still people along the route and we had to perform accordingly for an additional two hundred yards or so.

Finally, we got to the busses where we could break the formation. After receiving the order to proceed in a loose formation to the bus, our headcount revealed that two members did not make it to the end. Provisions for such an occurrence had already been made and the two men had been transported to the bus and were there before the rest of us got there. Later that night, I would decline the opportunity to hang out with some of the younger guys as they would again attempt to go to Ben’s Chili Bowl. I stayed in the house with the older group and we all ordered a pizza. When the younger group returned, they let me know that this time they were successful in getting into Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Tuesday, January 22, the day after the march, I awoke and checked the weather and discovered it was 20 degrees and only going to reach 23 degrees that day. I gave thanks that the inaugural parade occurred the day before when it was 25 degrees warmer. I was also thankful that I was going to put 516 miles of south between me and Washington, DC while the guys from Company A were going in the opposite direction into colder weather. Before I left, I had to again thank Company A for letting me join them for the second inaugural parade for first African American president of the United States. I vowed to them that I will prepare a place for them in Charleston, SC when they come during the week of July, 14 – 21, 2013 to participate in the 150th Anniversary of the Assault on Batter Wagner, the battle that was depicted in the movie Glory.

The institution of slavery suppressed our ancestors by denying them the opportunity to be educated. Any evidence of the enslaved being educated could meet with harsh punishment. One cumulative result is that African Americans have been playing catch up in recording our own history. To that end, a lot of African American history that should have been recorded has gone to the grave with some of our ancestors. I hereby thank my blog publisher for reminding me that I do have an audience and that some of the things that I do that I take for granted are worthy of being shared with that audience.

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Join Lowcountry Africana at Magnolia Plantation Feb 9 for a Seminar on Tracing Reconstruction-Era Ancestors

Learn About the Records That Will Help You Trace African American Ancestors Back Beyond 1870
~And~ Receive Personal Genealogy Advice from a Panel of Experienced Lowcountry Researchers!

Please join us at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens on Saturday, February 9 for the seminar "Breaking Through the 1870 Brick Wall - Tracing Reconstruction-Era Ancestors."

After the seminar, a panel of experienced Lowcountry researchers will be on hand to provide one-on-one genealogy advice. Whether you are just beginning your research or need advice to overcome brick walls, bring your research questions and join us!

Seminar Schedule

10:00 am - 11:00 am: Ramona La Roche "Finding Ancestors in Radical Republican Times"

11:00 am - 12:00 pm: Toni Carrier "Finding Your Ancestors in Freedmen's Bureau Records"

12:30 pm - 3:00 pm: Receive One-On-One Genealogy Advice from a Panel of Experienced Lowcountry Researchers!

Meet the Panelists

Ramona La Roche

Ramona La Roche is Vice President of the Charleston branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. She formerly served as Program Coordinator for the Jean Sampson Scott New York City chapter of the Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society from 1992 to 1999. She conducts genealogical workshops and research services, cultural arts training, related tours and event planning. She is a past participant and recipient of SC Arts Commission Institute of Community Scholars’ individual grant program.

Her collaborative work encompasses a wide variety of populations, such as youth services, educational institutions, and community development entities.

Her contracts include professional development for such entities as Mecklenburg County school K-12 art teachers at the Harvey B. Gannt Center in Charlotte, NC (funders Art & Science Council); conference presentations at the University of Texas at Austin and SC Art Educators Association annual meetings; Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet; Dreamkeepers Center, and First Steps, Georgetown, SC.

La Roche’s graduate work included her Healing Arts studies at Antioch University in San Francisco. She earned her professional degrees in Divergent Learning from Columbia College in South Carolina, a BFA degree, and an Art Therapy Certificate from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She also holds state licensure and National Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

Her published literary works include – “A Day Trip to Georgetown”, College of Charleston Avery Research Center’s Charleston African American Visitors Guide, (2006); "Gullah Connections: Crossing Over, Passing, the Links Between The Worlds", exploring Gullah & Yoruba Funerary practices, in Orisa: Yoruba God & Spiritual Identity in Africa and the Diaspora, Toyin Falola and Ann Genova, editors, (2005); and Black America Series: Georgetown County, SC (2000).

A teaching artist, La Roche’s visual and literary art expresses the inner strength of African American women which emanates from the depth and most deepest core of the Earth. She states, “We stand on shoulders and experiences of our fore mothers and fore fathers. It is this connection to this internal core, we experience that which fuels our ability to carry and emanate the inner Light.

Contact:

Ramona La Roche, M. Ed.

Divergent Learning Specialist

www.gullahgal.com/ http://xeeme.com/RamonaLaRoche

ramonalaroche@gmail.com

Fallon Green

Fallon N. Green is a first time author and is owner and operator of African American Genealogy with Fallon Green a South Carolina-based, family run, small press genealogical publishing company that specializes in producing study companions and reference tools geared towards African American family history researchers.

Fallon Green has over ten years experience doing Family History Research and is the online administrator of the The Gullah Diaspora Project, a beginning site for those requesting help searching Gullah Genealogies. This is a website dedicated to uniting all Gullah Descendants Worldwide by providing free guidance on family history research as well as by transcribing and indexing state and local records that are specific to the History of the Sea Islands and the cultural preservation of the American Story of the Gullah.

She is the Founding Member of the 2nd SC Chapter of the Sons and Daughters of the United States Colored Troops and is the online administrator of its flagship initiative, the previously mentioned, soon to be launched Gullah Diaspora Project 2012. Fallon Green currently works for the Foundation for the National Archives in Downtown Washington, DC and is an active member of several civic, research and volunteer groups within the city.

She is a Fourth Generation Descendant of Civil War Soldier Private Shedrick Manego, Company E of the 34th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. Who fought in and participated in such engagements as The Battle of Honey Hill, The Combahee Ferry Raid and the Battle of Olustee. A Beaufort, SC contemporary of Robert Smalls, Shedrick Manigo himself would go on to "Preach the Pulpit" following the Civil War and would build the church that still stands today and serves his home community, Second Gethsemane Baptist Church.

Paul Garbarini

Paul Garbarini has been immersed on Charleston history since his arrival in 1997.

A strong interest in Southern decorative arts lead him to be named the first South Carolina Professional Associate in Furniture for the American Institute for Conservation.

Garbarini became a licensed Charleston Tour Guide in 2009 and opened Uniquely Charleston Tours. His business is built around designing custom tours, researching Charleston’s deep documentary treasures, and finding genealogical links in the Lowcountry.

Toni Carrier

Toni Carrier is the Founding Director of Lowcountry Africana and the USF Africana Heritage Project. She holds a Master’s degree in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida and has been researching in Lowcountry records for the past 12 years.

Past projects include research for the PBS series African American Lives 2, genealogy research on Michelle Obama's family tree on behalf of Obama for America, and research on enslaved families on Ball family plantations in SC for the Priscilla's Homecoming reunion in 2005.

For the past 5 years, she and the Lowcountry Africana crew have been conducting research on behalf of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and Drayton Hall, to rebuild the lineages of enslaved families in SC, GA and FL. Lowcountry Africana, sponsored by the Magnolia Plantation Foundation of Charleston, SC, was awarded Drayton Hall’s Wood Family Fellowship and Toni Carrier and Lowcountry Africana Co-Director Robin Foster were awarded the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Charisse R. Cecil Internship for 2012, to extend the Drayton family research into postbellum times. Together, the studies on behalf of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and Drayton Hall will cover the grand sweep of African American history on Drayton family plantations from Colonial times to the present.

Toni's special research interest is in finding and digitizing records to assist African American family history researchers in tracing ancestors back before the 1870 US Census.

Grab and Share the Event Flyer!

Shares on social media and in print are most welcome and much appreciated! Please share with friends and we hope to see you there on February 9!