This Connecticut town never forgets a traitor.
Hundreds are expected to gather in New London on Saturday Burning of the Benedict Arnold Festivalin which a papier-mâché figure of the disgraced American revolutionary is set alight to mark the anniversary when Arnold led a group of more than 1,600 British soldiers to burn most of the city in September 1781.
“I like to jokingly refer to it as the original Burning Man festival,” said organizer Derron Wood.
For nearly a century, annual events to burn traitors were held in cities such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia, but were canceled during the Civil War.
Wood, who also serves as artistic director of New London’s Flock Theater, revived the festival in 2013.
It became part of the state Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festivaland returned last year after a pandemic-related break.
“This project and especially the response, the hunger for its return, was huge and the interest in it was huge,” said Victor Chiburis, co-organizer of the festival.
Participants, some dressed in period costume, march with a fife and drum corps on Bank Street in New London toward Waterfront Park, where it is Mayor, Michael E. PasseroHe shouts: “Think of New London” and sets fire to the effigy.
Arnold, a military officer, was appointed by then-General George Washington and given control of West Point, where Washington had his headquarters during the war.
However, it turned out that Arnold, who was from Norwich, was passing information to the British and was planning to hand West Point over to enemy forces.
Arnold carried out the attack on New London a month before the British surrendered at Yorktown, ending major fighting during the Revolution.
With post wires