Why is this event so different than other St. Augustine events?
The British Night Watch is more similar to a Revolutionary War Field Reenactment, along the lines of Camden, Guilford, Monmouth, or Williamsburg. Our participants follow authenticity and safety rules developed in part by the Brigade of the American Revolution and the British Brigade. Our registered participants travel from all over the United States in order to attend.
Our participants are members of British, Loyal American, and Rebel military units that participate in Revolutionary War Battle Reenactments, have a designated chain of command, and know their officers.
We do NOT allow non registered walk-on participants or groups.
We strive not to offend local historic groups of other time periods, but your membership in such a group does not automatically grant you a right to participate in the British Night Watch.
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Why have we moved to Francis Field?
The Spanish Quarter Museum is now open under private (pirate?) management, however in it's redesign, there will be no living history encampments at the museum.
The Castillo de San Marcos stopped allowing camping, and has refused any requests to consider allowing our camp there.
The Committee considered a few other locations as well- the Fountain of Youth, which lacks parking and public visibility, and the walk to downtown would be much further; The Mission of Nombre de Dios, which has more parking and increased visibility, but does not allow camping is also out of consideration. If you know of a location, close to downtown, that has at least 2 acres and parking close by- let us know please.
We know that the move has it's drawbacks, but we were faced with no alternatives. Our current arrangements mean we have access to over 100 parking spots (after 5pm on Friday) at no charge, and the City's Public Parking Garage across from camp for the Visitors. If you think about it, the situation could be much worse.
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This question is probably the one we hear most often! Please, be assured that we, as a Committee, have inquired annually with the NPS to have our camp located on the Fort Green, but it is against the current policy of the Castillo to allow this. The same answer applies to staying inside the fort at night. If the policies of the Castillo change, you the participant will be among the first to know.
Of course, if we are ever allowed to camp on the Fort Green again, we lose the 21+ Sutlers that we currently host, as they would not be allowed to sell on the Federal Property.
TANSTAAFL.* Every aspect of this event costs money. No part of this event is given to us for free.
Yes, we apply for and receive grant monies, but they have matching fund requirements themselves, and do not cover every type of expense. The 2012 BNW cost over $14,000 to put on!
Here's a breakdown, and it may surprise you.
This is also why we sell T-shirts, ornaments, refreshments, and candles. We try to get donations wherever we can.
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* TANSTAAFL- There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch- Acronym attributed to Robert A. Heinlein
The financing for the event comes from a variety of sources, and the funding effort for next year begins immediately after a completed event. We are supported through private donations, in-kind donations, and a grant from the St. John's County Tourist Development Council. Funds are limited, and we try to stretch every dollar to put on the best event possible. If you've ever wondered why we don't purchase X for the event, the answer is probably due to funding limitations.
TDC funds come with strings attached and provisions that we must follow, tremendous paperwork before and after the event, and require us to raise matching funds.
We sell T-shirts, Christmas Ornaments, Stickers, & Posters. We charge a small admission to the Public, and sell them refreshments. We are always looking for ways to raise money, to keep this 39 year old tradition alive for the future. Ideas for Fundraising are always appreciated, as are donations.
Big question. We'll devote some space to this one. The British Night Watch is a coordinated effort by The Committee for the Night Watch, Inc., an all volunteer organization. You can see the committee members here. Starting immediately after the end of one event, we start planning for the next one, and have regular meetings throughout the year to plan, and then fine-tune the plans.
We meet with local authorities, go over the rules imposed by the City and County, and submit applications for use of the field, parade permits and the like.
While the event is primarily focused on the Night Watch Parade, a variety of activities are planned to provide an enjoyable experience for both the participant, and the visitor. we focus on driving visitors to our camp, and into the motels, campgrounds, and B&B's of the County, to fulfill our funding requirements.
Planning for the next event starts with feedback from our participants, and the public's reactions, as well as the Committee's observations. We compile the information, and then work through what aspects of the event worked, what aspects didn't, and what needs fine tuning for the future.
This event is different than most, as it is not run by an historic site, or government entity- it is completely run by experienced reenactors, with a lot of freedom and leeway to do as the event requires for the best possible experience, within the framework of our guidelines. Nothing is given to us for free, and we handle every aspect of putting on the event and Parade.
The committee members are responsible for all areas of the event, from arranging for all event permits, hay, firewood, bathroom facilities, to purchasing and moving the supplies for the Jollification. It's a lot of work, and we are always looking to improve our volunteer efforts in the future to spread the love around.
Once the event is over, then it's cleanup time!
The laws that may be different from what you are used to are our focus here, and have been specifically brought to our attention by the City of St. Augustine.
St. Augustine has laws concerning where vendors can set up or sell, with most of the downtown area forbidden.
Consumption of Alcohol on a public street- even from a flask- may get you arrested.
Permits are required for all parades, and rules are worse on St. George Street. Pay attention to what we tell you on Parades, please.
The Law of Gravity, as well as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, are under review, and may be suspended by the City Commission.
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Currently all Military units must form at 7PM on St. George Street, by the City Gates, in order to march in the British Night Watch ~ Grande Illumination Parade. In 2013, we had several groups decide to "meet" the parade at a different location, but that is in violation of the Parade Permit that is issued by the City.
For the future, if your Reenacted Military unit is not in formation at the start of the Parade at 7PM, you will not be allowed to join or march the Parade.
We are working to address some issues the Distaff and Civilians encountered with the Parade, and will let you know as soon as we can resolve your concerns.
We understand that there is more distance involved than before since we are at Francis Field, and we are looking hard at how the parade works- but we all must comply with the issued City Parade Permits. You will be the first to know when we have more information on next years' parade.
Some of you have brought this up. In an ideal situation, period correct vendors would sell us Bread or soups or Roast Beast, while we sip on mugs of steaming chocolate or Ale served from a wooden cask. Seriously, how often do you see this? Don't say Williamsburg, the "Taverns" there are totally modern, and geared towards fulfilling a need for the Public, not us. Any modern intrusion you see, from a Port-O-Let instead of a dug trench, to a tavern selling cans of coke instead of a cask of ale- are geared toward public needs, as we are an event open to the Public.
We had lights in camp at night, to keep the Public from tripping, amplified music so the music could be heard, and a modern fence around the field instead of asking you guys to provide 20 sentries.
Modern Laws also come into play- we'd love a period food vendor- but county health laws must be met, as well as catering licenses. Food and drink are the big items that the Public has asked for year after year, and they pay to come in and see us, so we should accommodate our paying guests if we can.
We're still working at how to divide up the field - this year- we put the military camp as far away from the Modern Intrusions as possible, but some complained that the bathrooms were to far away. We are trying, and we are listening.
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What is it? Jollification is an "After-Party" for the re-enactors, to socialize after the parade, usually starting at 9:30 Saturday Night.
The Jollification takes place in the BIG tent, at Francis Field, 9:30 PM Saturday. You must be in period clothing to attend, and a registered participant.
The decision was made in 2012 to move Jollification from the Spanish Bakery to our camp in Francis Field for a number of reasons, foremost for the health and well-being of Gene & Beth Adelsperger, of the Spanish Bakery who have so graciously hosted us in the past, but ran into health issues in the weeks before the event.
Logistics and troop location then came into play, and we pulled the trigger on the move to camp.
Some of you have asked about the choice of beer, and the straight answer was we were limited to purchase of 1 type, and went for the most popular on average. Not my favorite, by long shot, but palatable to most, loved by some, and worst case- inoffensive. We may have a choice of 2 in 2013.
The same answer applies to the Soda choices, we purchased the Top 3, Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite.
We were asked about a lack of seating- please plan to bring a seat, as we are limited in what we can provide- every seat we provide has to be loaded up, carried to the event, then packed back onto a vehicle and re-delivered to it's owner- and we don't have the manpower, or know of an event that does.
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Each year, a commemorative coin is struck and issued to registered participants. We strive to issue authentic coins, with a definite look and feel to them, and in some cases we have had to add a blemish to help collectors notice that it is not original! The coins are issued in British camp. If you wish to receive a coin, you must be a REGISTERED participant. This year's COIN PAGE is HERE
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Of course there are! First as a participant in the British Night Watch, you must be dressed in clothing authentic to the British Period in St. Augustine, 1763 to 1783. For some answers on how to dress, take a look Here.
You must conform to the dress of the period to participate in the British Night Watch as a reenactor participant.
For our public participants that are dressed outside of our time frame, you may still march in the parade with the general public, behind our reenactors. If you have found this page, and are NOT a Reenactor, please visit our Public website at www.britishnightwatch.org and join in the Parade Saturday night as a Public Participant.
No, we encourage participation both in the encampment and in the parade- as long as you are dressed appropriate to the British Period in Florida, 1763 to 1783. For this reason, we do not allow Seminole of later periods, Spanish, War of 1812 dress, Conquistador, Pirates, etc.
If you are so inclined to dress outside of our period, please do not try to enter camp, or march with the reenactors in the parade. You are welcome, as is anyone, to march the Night Watch Parade with the visiting public.
I believe the highly acclaimed Native Demonstrators in camp to be the best answer to the above question. We are about authenticity, and are very period specific.
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Why was a band playing at Government House Saturday Night?
Blame the side-effects of the University of Florida now running Government House. A local couple contacted U of F directly in Gainesville, instead of going through the local office. They were allowed to rent Government House for a Wedding and Reception, without realizing that the Night Watch was going to be shooting at them. We put safety guidelines in place, and they decided to take their chances.
This situation was new, and should not happen again.
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Why are there no Spanish involved? (In this event)
Well, during the time we portray, there were NO Spanish to speak of- except for 8 Spanish Citizens (not Military) who stayed behind when Florida was turned over to the English in 1763 to assist in the transfer of properties. 2 of these Spaniards were my ancestors! For this reason, we allow NO Spanish Portrayals at the British Night Watch.
The people that we represent with our event include: The British Military- Soldiers of the regular Regiments, Provincial Troops, and Loyal Militias; Loyal English civilian Citizens who have come from the other colonies and England itself; Native Allies of the English, such as the Creek. A small smattering of others- such as Rebel prisoners on Parole during the American War of Independence, and a few English speaking foreigners on friendly terms with the Crown fill out the population.
Enemies of Britain, such as France and Spain, are not present in St. Augustine during the period we represent with the exceptions noted above.
The only Pirates still around by our time period along the Eastern Coast and the Caribbean are American Privateers, and if found in St. Augustine would have been hung as traitors to the Crown.
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Rendezvous VS. Re-enactment VS. Living History
No really, We've heard this one. At one event, we had a request from a unit's distaff to have potted flowers outside the Porto-lets and to install a warmer for the hand-wash station.
Personally, I have been in reenactment battles when temperatures were 7 degrees with ice and snow, 110 degrees and a heat index of 124 in full kit, an event where a tropical storm formed directly over the event site, sleet and high winds, ice storms, tornados (multiple events), downpours during the battle, and flooded camps.
There is NOTHING uncomfortable at the British Night Watch!
You are responsible for your comfort. The weather will be between 40 and 80 degrees for a high, and between 30 and 60 degrees for a low. There is an average of 15% chance of precipitation over the event, and the chance of rain during the Parade is much smaller, but still exists.
We do not provide you a place to sit, a table to rest on, nor a blanket if you are cold. Please plan accordingly. If you suffer a real emergency, please call 911 and shout for help; In case of a lesser emergency contact the on-site committee member, go to the BNW Sutlery or registration, we'll meet you there.
We provide firewood, and a small number of fire locations for warmth and cooking. You may need an axe or tomahawk.
We provide a place for your tent, you may need stakes and a hammer.
We believe in Personal Responsibility.
We provide bathrooms, a place where you can set up a stool, blanket or home-base if you don't camp, and an interesting time, I promise.