SOMERS, N.Y. – Master story teller Jonathan Kruk is known all around the Hudson Valley for thrilling audiences with spooky solo shows about headless horsemen and haunted elderly misers.
Here in Somers, Kruk has performed for rapt summer campers at Mount Zion Methodist Church. Located on Primrose Street, the historic site is the town’s oldest house of worship.
Lately, however, the Cold Spring resident’s been posting his dramatic readings online. Not surprisingly, they deal with the scary subject of dangerous plagues. Think “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allen Poe and “A Pox Upon Us,” which recounts George Washington’s struggles during the Revolutionary War, where one of the greatest threats to the Continental Army came not from enemy fire, but from disease.
Both are intended, Kruk says, to show “how people endured those trying times.”
Now, he’s lending a hand to the Somers Historical Society’s efforts to find ways to educate and entertain the community during the quarantine and travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Sunday, April 5, Kruk will kick off its new weekly online program “Somers Historical Society: History at Home.”
The series started with a conversation and YouTube performances by Kruk: “Asbury Elliot – First Blessed in Somers” for adults and “Hack & Old Bet – The First Circus Story” for children.
The nonprofit group is lining up other guest speakers, including historians, curators, artists, and other experts in their fields.
While topics will all be related to history, they don’t necessarily have to be Somers’, said the society’s Grace Zimmermann Saturday, April 4.
The society’s museum, located on the third floor of The Elephant Hotel, is closed to the public now. And its World Circus Day celebration, usually held in April, is on hold. Also in jeopardy are fundraising plans for replacing the crumbling statue of Old Bet, Hachaliah Bailey’s famed African elephant.
“Offering entertainment, it’s really all we can do at this point,” said Zimmermann.
“We want to provide some type of community service during these extraordinary times,” commented Historical Society Trustee Erika Panzarino.
The new platform is a way of reaching out to people hunkered down at home and of giving guest speakers a place to “share their knowledge and support their businesses and organizations in what is a financially difficult time for many small institutions,” Panzarino added.
Zimmermann said it’s hoped that the series will live on for a long time after the coronavirus has passed.
The link to each week’s Zoom (a web conferencing service) meeting will be posted on the Somers Historical Society’s Facebook page.
On Sunday, April 5, the series will be hosted online at https://zoom.us/j/888026638 . To call in to listen, call 1-646-558-8656 then enter the meeting ID Meeting ID: 888 026 638.
Instructions for how to set up Zoom can also be found on the Somers Historical Society Facebook page.
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