By K. David Weidner, Ph.D., Executive Director
We at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum are happy to have our first summer in the “post Covid” era under our belts. It hardly seems possible that we are ready for the autumn breezes to come back to the Cape after this incredibly hot and summer. Once again, we’ve experienced a season like no other, and this year, Provincetown was affected by bad press, hurricanes and the challenges of the lingering pandemic. But, as always, the beat went on in our community and we are happy to report a busy and great summer. Here are some highlights from the 2021 season.
Our New Exhibit – Our Story
Since making its debut at the end of last season, as hoped, our new exhibit, Our Story: The Complicated Relationship of the Indigenous Wampanoag and the Mayflower Pilgrims, has received incredible interest from the community and the media. We are excited to share this exhibit, the creation of which was done by Steven Peters of SmokeSygnals. Their curation of the amazing story of the Wampanoag on Cape Cod, including the arrival of the Mayflower Pilgrims in Provincetown in 1620 and their first interactions is a one of a kind exhibit. Be sure to experience it for yourself soon, if you haven’t already.
We were happy to see Juneteenth make much needed strides both locally as well as on the national stage, and we’re looking forward to celebrating it for the second year as a federal holiday in 2022. Here in Provincetown, in partnership with Fire Island, there was a most historic event, organized by our friends at the Provincetown Brewing Company. The festivities kicked off with remarks and a raising of the Pan-African flag at the Pilgrim Monument, followed by a march down High Pole Hill and into town, stopping at historically significant markers of Provincetown’s important Black history, with the procession ending at 54 Commercial Street, a safehouse on the Underground Railroad. The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum was proud to participate in telling the truth and making a statement from High Pole Hill.
Jamaican Independence Day
Over the course of our region’s rich history, the Mayflower did not bring the only pilgrims to our shores searching for a better life and the freedom to be themselves. One such group are our brothers and sisters from Jamaica who started coming here in support of our summer tourist season. Over time, they began staying here year-round, becoming U.S. citizens and an integral part of the fabric of our culture and community. Today, Jamaicans are Provincetown.
On August 6, 1962, the Colony of Jamaica gained independence from the United Kingdom, after 300 years of British control. To show our appreciation and respect for an important part of our Provincetown family, on August 6, 2021, we raised the Jamaican flag over High Pole Hill in celebration of Jamaican Independence Day and the ways this group has enriched our community.
Completed: The Bradford Street Inclined Elevator
We were hopeful that the inclined elevator would be ready for the start of the 2021 season. Unfortunately, this did not end up being the case, however, we were very pleased to see the Bradford Access Project construction nearly complete! The autumn will find us getting the final certifications and inspections so that we can be operational in 2022.
As summer turns to autumn and the tourist season becomes the holiday season, we are already looking ahead to our Annual Lighting, which will take place on Thursday, November 11. The Annual Lighting means so many different and wonderful things to everyone on the Outer Cape. As we did in 2020, we will have a virtual lighting at dusk on November 11, and we are looking for participation from our community. When you see the lights of the Pilgrim Monument turn on, we want everyone to “Holler to the Hill.” Blow those car horns and make lots of noise as we commemorate this time. Watch our social media pages for more details on this and how you can tune-in to the Annual Lighting.
Historically, many may remember the Annual Lighting taking place on the evening before Thanksgiving. Beginning last year — the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival in Provincetown — we moved the event to November 11: the day the Pilgrims marked in the diaries as having made landfall. One item to note, they were using the Julian calendar, which was still in use in 1620. Today’s Gregorian calendar is more accurate and has the Pilgrims arriving around November 24, which often coincides with the evening before Thanksgiving, which is why we used to hold the Lighting then.
This year, we hope all of you will sponsor lighting the Monument on behalf of your loved ones or any occasion special to you. When longtime resident and PMPM Board President, Courtney Hurst was growing up, her grandmother would gift lightings to her grandchildren. Courtney said it was always special knowing that the Monument was lit on a particular night for her. Please help us continue this tradition.
Despite the summer season winding down, the PMPM season will continue, this year until November 15. Until then, the Pilgrim Monument will keep standing tall for TRUTH (tolerance, respect, unity, trust and history.) We will continue to welcome visitors and share its incredible views along with our region’s rich history — as we have done for more than 110 years.
We look forward to seeing you at PMPM this year!