KENT ISLAND — The year 2020 has two zeros in its number. For many organizations, those zero’s have lived up to its billing. For the Kent Island Heritage Society in particular, as it has been a double zero year for them.
For the local educational historical society, whose mission is to continue to educate the public about local history, particularly those people who reside here, 2020 has been a total zero. Normally, all of the historical sites on Kent Island are open the first Saturday of each month, beginning in April. With the pandemic starting in March, the sites have not been open at all this year, and according to KI Heritage Society President Jack Broderick, “For the safety of our member volunteers, all who are in the at-risk age group for the virus, we not going to risk anyone. The Heritage Board voted to cancel all activities for the remainder of this year.” The historic sites are open, normally, through the first Saturday in November.
All previously scheduled events that were canceled for 2020 included; Kent Island Day (in May), the KI Heritage Society picnic (at Kirwan House/Farm, in September), and the end of year Christmas gathering/installation of officers (at Fisherman’s Inn, in December). The heritage society also sponsors guest speakers on a variety of local historical topics throughout the year — this year’s topic possibly would have recognized the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage beginning in 1920. In past years, the heritage society has had living history presentations with historical impersonators representing famed aviator Amelia Earhart, iconic colonial figures, and live local history sessions of African American waterman who reside on the island.
In March, the archaeological presentation by Dr. Darrin Lowery was canceled, as well as the general meeting and annual cruise on the Chester River, in June.
In 2018, the KI Heritage Society began teaching local Kent Island history classes to Kent Island High School students through the coordination and enthusiastic support of Principal John Schrencongost, and supportive teachers at the high school. The classes were deemed a great success. Those classes came to a halt with the outbreak of the pandemic earlier this year.
Broderick is hoping the heritage society will be able to resume serving the community in 2021. However, the Heritage Board first meet virtually and make the decisions as to when they feel it will be safe to re-open activities and resume historical site tours.