Going up in flames: The Burning of Benedict Arnold fest returns

The Mystic Garland Dancers perform in front of an effigy of Benedict Arnold last year at New London's Custom House Pier before the effigy is lit on fire at The Burning of Benedict Arnold.
(Tali Greener/Special to The Day)
The Mystic Garland Dancers perform in front of an effigy of Benedict Arnold last year at New London's Custom House Pier before the effigy is lit on fire at The Burning of Benedict Arnold. (Tali Greener/Special to The Day)

Take that, Benedict Arnold!

The infamous traitor has been excoriated in the years since he became a Revolutionary War turncoat and ordered the burning of New London on Sept. 6, 1871.

Turnabout is fair play. After that infamous day, folks around here began a tradition of burning Arnold in effigy. Flock Theatre has revived that custom and will host its third annual Burning of Benedict Arnold Festival this weekend in New London.

The event includes on Saturday:

The performance of a play written by Charles Traeger about Arnold's raid on Groton and New London; it starts at 4 p.m. at the Hempsted Houses and moves to the Shaw Mansion at 5 p.m.

A Taste of New London featuring food from Dev's on Bank, The Seehund, and Mr. G's and a beer garden, from 4-8 p.m. at the Shaw Mansion

The burning of Arnold starts with a parade at 8 p.m. from Bank Street to Waterfront Park.

But first there is the Moustache Fusileer Ball tonight at Dev's on Bank. This fun night is inspired by how, in the mid-1800s, some notable New London residents donned military costumes and noses with moustaches and then did some mock drills on the anniversary of Arnold's burning of New London. Those were the moustache fusileers, and people attending Flock's Moustache Fusileer Ball are thus encouraged to dress like that. There'll be costume and moustache contests, and "a cabaret of absurd acts in the Fusileer and Burning of Benedict Arnold theme."

Burning of Benedict Arnold Festival, Moustache Fusileer Ball, 6:30-10 tonight, Dev's on Bank, 345 Bank St., New London, $60 and must call for pre-payment at (860) 442-3387; and festival on Saturday includes play at 4 p.m., Hempsted Houses, 11 Hempstead St., Taste of New London, 4-8 p.m., Shaw Mansion, 11 Blinman St., and burning of Arnold parade a8 p.m., Bank Street to Waterfront Park; (860) 443-3119.

Flock Theatre actors Hannah Schenk, right, and Nick Perry, left, dressed as a
Flock Theatre actors Hannah Schenk, right, and Nick Perry, left, dressed as a "moustache fusileer," dance in front of an effigy of Benedict Arnold at New London's Custom House Pier at last year's Burning of Benedict Arnold. (Tali Greener/Special to The Day)

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