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'Walt Whitman' Coming Back to Brooklyn for New Utrecht 'Liberty Weekend'
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BROOKLYN - "Walt Whitman" comes back to Brooklyn Saturday, May 31 for "Liberty Weekend," Brooklyn's annual salute to the American flag at the New Utrecht Reformed Church where he will read some of his famous poetry starting at 2:15 p.m.

The three-day event begins Friday when hundreds of city school children will be given tours of the historic sites in "old New Utrecht" and visit a Civil War encampment near Liberty Pole Blvd. (84th St.) and 18th Ave. in Bensonhurst. Much of the early history of the United States is found in the area where the nation's only remaining
Liberty Pole still stands.

Darrel Blaine Ford, an impersonator of Whitman, is making his second appearance at New Utrecht where at last year's "Liberty Weekend" he also wore a full beard and dressed like the poet, just as he does before other audiences at schools, libraries and club organizations.

Whitman's Brooklyn connections began when he was four years old and his family moved from their Long Island farm. He attended public schools in Brooklyn, off and on, until he was eleven, when  his formal education came to an end. Later, Whitman began a career as a printer and journalist, and by 1841 he was a full-time journalist, writing prose and verse. He was editor of the
Brooklyn Daily Eagle. In 1855, his first edition of Leaves of Grass was published in Brooklyn.

Other highlights of "Liberty Weekend" announced by Angela Sarro, events coordinator for the
Friends of Historic New Utrecht, include a "Concert Under the Stars" on the church lawn Saturday at 7:45 p.m. by the all-city high school ISO Orchestra under the direction of Brian P. Worsdale. This year's activities celebrating freedom as symbolized by the flag are dedicated to Americans now in uniform and to veterans, Mrs. Sarro said.

On Friday, May 30th, the school children will walk amidst the Civil War encampment erected on the church grounds by the 14th Brooklyn Regiment Company H. The encampment is open to the public on Saturday, May 31st and Sunday, June 1st. Both days tours will be given at the church's 1654 cemetery, at 85th St. and 16th Ave., at 10 a.m. Also on Saturday at 10 a.m., a historical display will be presented in the church Parish House.

Church tours will be given at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The
church, formerly Dutch Reformed, was founded 326 years ago. Like its Parish House, it is famous for its architecture and stained-glass windows.

On Sunday, the Rev. Terry Troia, the church's minister, will lead an all-faith worship service at 11 a.m. in honor of U.S. troops past and present. At 1 p.m., a processional will be conducted from the church to the cemetery for a service (1:20 p.m.) led by Chaplain George Munkenbeck of the re-enactors' organization at the monument of Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Woodhull. His remains are buried in Mastic, Long Island.

Concluding ceremonies in observance of the 220th anniversary of the raising of the New Utrecht Liberty Pole will be held on the church front lawn at 2 p.m. This is the sixth pole on the site; the first dated back to the evacuation of the British.

Persons interested in learning more about the history of "old New Utrecht," which now consists of Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Fort Hamilton, Boro Park and parts of Gravesend and Sunset Park, may contact the Friends historic group at 1-718-256-7173.


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