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Yule of Yesteryear: A Celebration of Lost Holiday Traditions

Yule of Yesteryear: A Celebration of Lost Holiday Traditions

Jeff Barker | Northwest Florida Daily News

VALPARAISO – Wet weather might have canceled the confederate soldiers’ rifle drills, but it didn’t stop them from cooking Christmas dinner over an open flame.

The Walton Guard, a Civil War re-enactment group, relived the Christmas of 1861 by campfire Saturday across the street from the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida. They were on hand for the museum’s annual Yule of Yesteryear celebration, a showcase of 19th century ways of life.

Although the rain meant few people visited the guard’s camp, members still stayed Friday night in their tents.

“When you’re cold and shivering, what’s the rain?” Walton Guard Capt. Jim Busby said.

Although the men wore gray wool uniforms and the women wore corsets and petticoats, they weren’t out there just to play dress-up.

Members of the guard consider themselves amateur historians, with a mission to spread knowledge about what happened in Northwest Florida during the Civil War. The original Walton Guards camped in present-day Fort Walton Beach to keep shipping lanes to Pensacola open.

Yule of Yesteryear began several decades ago as an attic sale at Christmastime, museum staffer Rae Williams said. The museum still raises funds through a bake sale, while historical displays are livened up by Walton Guard ladies in bonnets who sit down for Victorian-style tea.

The event aims to teach people history and entertain them at the same time, said Michelle Severino, the museum’s director.