History comes alive at centennial Titanic event

One hundred years to the day from when the Titanic struck the fateful iceberg, a group of costumed history enthusiasts met in the Mackey Center at York College to learn more about the most deadly non-wartime tragedy at sea.

The Miller Room was transformed into the A la Carte Restaurant on board Titanic, and many of the 120 participants came in character, sporting period gowns and suits.

Titanic Bell

The somber tolling of a replica Titanic ship’s bell marked in real time the sinking of the ship, interrupting the program with reminders every few minutes of what was going on a hundred years earlier. From iceberg encounter to final submersion, the sinking of the “unsinkable” ship lasted only 2 hours and 40 minutes. The York College event followed the same timeline.

Upon entering, attendees were given a card with information about a real Titanic passenger. At the end of the evening, lists were provided so that they could discover whether or not their passenger had survived the sinking. Titanic era clothing and accessories

A mini museum display was set up in the adjacent Cornerstone Room, with replica Titanic artifacts and information about the ship and crew, including a set of dishes from first, second, and third classes.

The display also included authentic clothing and accessories similar to what might have been worn by passengers.

The program was made up of a variety of acts. Live music authentic to the period was provided by Amy Fraser, Tod Martin, Brianna Bailey, and Kay Magner. YC students presented a readers theater arrangement of real survivors stories and news clippings, prepared by John Baker, assistant professor of communication. A live demonstration had three students testing their toughness by plunging their hands into ice water for several minutes so that they could better imagine the experience of those victims waiting for rescue in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.

Beverly and Tim McNeese

Tim McNeese, associate professor of history and chair of the Department of History, was the key organizer of the event. MC for the evening, McNeese provided commentary throughout, focusing on the unlikely events and the human folly responsible for the tragedy.

McNeese also provided a brief lecture about what was to him one of the saddest elements of the tragedy: the division of families. McNeese explored the emotional scenes which would have taken place with husbands and fathers putting their families on a lifeboat, promising to see them after the rescue, knowing all the while that they would likely never see their loved ones again.

Hear his lecture

Beverly McNeese, assistant professor of English and chair of the Department of English, read the poem “The Convergence of the Twain: Lines of the Loss of the Titanic” by Thomas Hardy, written in 1912.

The evening concluded with a toast from Tim McNeese, encouraging all to raise their glasses to those traveling by sea, air, rail and road, that they may all return safely to their loved ones.

After the program, the 1958 film A Night to Remember was shown.

See pics from the event

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