More than 150 years ago, black slaves would steal their way north to freedom, hiding in Westerville homes and being aided by Westerville residents.

More than 150 years ago, black slaves would steal their way north to freedom, hiding in Westerville homes and being aided by Westerville residents.

The Westerville Parks and Recreation Department, the Westerville Public Library and the Westerville Historical Society are attempting to give residents a firsthand look at the Underground Railroad with the second presentation of its Freedom Trail, which was first offered in 2009.

Participants mingle with actors to witness a portrayal of a slave auction, then escape along the Underground Railroad, meeting local historical figures, including Bishop and Ben Hanby, George Stoner and Andrew Jackson Smith.

The parks and recreation department is offering nine presentations of the Freedom Trail on the evenings of Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 at Heritage Park, 60 N. Cleveland Ave. The program is open to ages 12 and older.

The program was written by Westerville Public Library local history coordinator Beth Weinhardt and Harriett Merriman. This year’s version is much the same as the program presented two years ago, Weinhardt said.

However, the program has been expanded to include more historical figures and all of the presentations have been scheduled after dusk in an attempt to capture more of the fear that those who escaped along the Underground Railroad would have felt, said library local history assistant Nina Thomas.

“It’s more intense,” she said.

The program includes about 20 professional and amateur re-enactors who portray specific historical figures or represent groups of people who were active on the Underground Railroad, such as the Quakers.

The program costs $10 per person, and participation is limited to 30 people per session.

For more information about the Freedom Trail, visit the city’s website at www.westerville.org, or contact the department of parks and recreation at (614) 901-6500.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com

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