Draped in patriotic decorations, Carillon Historical Park is once again gearing up for Heritage Day with the Dayton Philharmonic. Highlights of this family-fun event include theatrical performances, swing dancing, a barbershop quartet, the Clodbusters (19th-century baseball), candle making, letterpress printing, historic folk music, the Carillon Park Concert Band, and of course, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.
Here are 5 fun ways Dayton’s unparalleled history is highlighted:
1. WORLD WAR I ENCAMPMENT
For the first time, a World War I encampment will be part of Heritage Day. Featuring a fire pit, weaponry and uniforms, the encampment was spearheaded by Dr. Paul Lockhart, a Wright State history professor and WWI expert. Lockhart was also integral in Carillon Historical Park’s extensive World War I exhibit, “Over There: Dayton in the Great War.”
Dayton history WWI facts: During the Great War, the Dayton Wright Airplane Co. produced the world-famous DH-4 biplane and Liberty Engine. Dayton’s nearly 160,000 citizens also rallied together during the famed Liberty Loan Drives, fundraising to aid the government.
2. HIGH-WHEEL BICYCLE RIDING
Look for the historical interpreter, dressed in Victorian era costume, riding a high-wheel bicycle (also known as an ordinary or penny-farthing) across Carillon Historical Park’s 65-acre campus. Make sure you don’t get in his way — there are no brakes on a high-wheel bicycle!
Dayton history Wright Cycle fun facts: By the mid-1880s, high-wheel bicycles were phasing out, and the two-wheel sprocket-and-chain safety bicycle (resembling what we use today) was taking its place. The bicycle craze was overtaking America, and the Wright brothers capitalized on the momentum, opening the Wright Cycle Exchange in 1892 (later known as Wright Cycle Co.)
Wilbur and Orville built a high-end safety bicycle called the Van Cleve (named for their family tie to Catherine Benham Van Cleve Thompson, who was purportedly the first female settler off the boat in Dayton). Sprocket-and-chain technology, similar to that employed on the brothers’ bicycles, was also used on the Wrights’ aeroplanes.
There are only five Van Cleve bicycles left in the world, and two of them are at Carillon Park’s Wright Brothers Aviation Center.
>> MORE COOL HISTORY: Famous graves at Woodland Cemetery.
3. MUSKET FIRING
Carillon Park early settlement interpreters will be firing a flintlock muzzle-loader during Heritage Day, its sound harkening to Dayton’s early years. Black powder is loaded into the gun, creating a loud bang that elicits plenty of excitement across the park.
Dayton history early settlement fun facts: Nineteen men and 17 women and children left Cincinnati for Dayton in March 1796. They traveled in three parties: the Samuel Thompson party, the George Newcom party and the William Hamer party.
Newcom Tavern (Est. 1796), Dayton’s oldest standing building, was also the city’s first jail, church, general store and Montgomery County’s first courthouse. It was moved to and dedicated at Carillon Park in May 1965.
>> RELATED: 15 must-see historic places in Dayton area.
4. MINIATURE TRAIN RIDES
Established in 1984, the Carillon Park Rail & Steam Society operates its miniature railroad at Heritage Day. Rides are $1 per person, per ride, and the funds directly support the Carillon Park Rail & Steam Society.
Dayton history railroad fun facts: For 20 years, near the end of the 19th century, the Barney & Smith Car Co. was Dayton’s largest employer (before NCR took the throne). Employing up to 2,000 people, Barney & Smith built a settlement known as the Kossuth Colony, a walled enclave comprised of some 40 structures that housed Hungarian and Romanian immigrant workers.
An original and opulent 1903 Barney & Smith rail car is located at Carillon Park’s Transportation Center.
>> INTERACTIVE GUIDE: Search for all Ohio Historical Markers in the region.
5. THE DAYTON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
With the sun setting over Carillon Park, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will once again close Heritage Day, offering a special program featuring “The Star Spangled Banner,” Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag,” Les Misérables’ “Stars,” Tchaicovsky’s “1812 Overture,” and many other classic numbers and patriotic favorites.
Dayton history DPO fun facts: Founded in 1933, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the Miami Valley’s longest standing cultural organizations. Music Director Neil Gittleman has been on the philharmonic podium since September 1995, and he is only the fourth director in DPO history. From 1933-1975, Dr. Paul Katz served as conductor, and alongside longstanding executive director Miriam Rosenthal, he built the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra — an integral piece of Dayton’s cultural fabric.
Want to go?
WHAT: Heritage Day with the Dayton Philharmonic
WHEN: Sunday, May 28, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
COST: Regular admission fees apply. Ages 18-59: $8. Ages 60+: $7. Children ages 3-17: $5. Children under 3: free. Dayton History members: free. Special military admission: $5 (Active, Retirees, Veterans, & Reservists with Valid Identification).
No parking fee. No fireworks. Carillon Brewing Co. available all day.