Boston Tea Party 250th anniversary: City to re-enact key moment in history

Boston is set to re-enact its tea rebellion -- and act that changed the course of history 250 years ago.

Boston is set to re-enact its tea rebellion — and act that changed the course of history 250 years ago.Michael BlanchardCNN — 

They were fed up with a British tax on tea in particular and consumed by resentment of British authority in general. So on the night of December 16, 1773, a group of rebellious colonial Americans called the Sons of Liberty decided to make a statement.

They sneaked onto ships docked in Boston Harbor and proceeded to toss 342 chests of imported Chinese tea into the water. This act of mercantile defiance impressed the heck out of future US President John Adams.

“This Destruction of the Tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid and inflexible, and it must have so important Consequences, and so lasting, that I cant but consider it as an Epocha in History,” he wrote in his diary.

Adams certainly hit the bullseye in his prediction that this night would echo through history. And now the city is set to re-enact the Boston Tea Party on its 250th anniversary. Here’s what they have planned:

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What will happen at the Tea Party re-enactments

Live, historical re-enactments will start at 4 p.m. Saturday, December 16, at Faneuil Hall, according to a representative of the December 16th 1773 organization, which is putting on the event. Tickets are sold out for viewing inside the hall, but people can still gather outside and watch screenings of what’s going on inside.

At 6 p.m. at Downtown Crossing (Reader’s Park at Milk and Washington streets), a town crier will deliver news to the crowds of Patriots and Loyalists gathered outside of re-enacted events simmering inside the Old South Meeting House (also sold out).

At 7:30 p.m., a rolling rally led by fife and drum corps will march toward Harborwalk. The procession is free and open to the public.

At 8 p.m., re-enactors will be on two replica ships, ready to throw tea off the vessel. The December 16th group said “more than 2,000 donations of loose tea have been received from all 50 states and from all around the globe in addition to 250 pounds from London’s East India Company, the same company where the tea came [from] 250 years ago.”

At the waterfront, bleachers will be available first-come, first-served for people to sit and watch the destruction of the tea. Parts of the reenactment will be live-streamed.

Crowds will be able to follow re-enactors down to the harbor.

Crowds will be able to follow re-enactors down to the harbor.Caroline Talbot

Is this tea dump going to be safe for the harbor and the animals in it?

“We have always made it our goal to leave the smallest environmental impact on the Fort Point Channel.” the organizing team of the 250th Boston Tea Party Anniversary & Reenactment said in statement to CNN Travel. “The tea itself is a biodegradable plant as it is just dried leaves. All other materials are retrieved from the harbor. The chests themselves are retrieved from the water and there are no other substances left in the water.

“Additionally, while we have seen a large amount of participation in the tea donation project, the amount of tea that we are throwing pales in comparison to the original amount thrown in 1773.  In 1773, the Sons of Liberty threw over 92,000 pounds of tea. We will not be throwing anywhere close to the number.”

Types of tea at the Party and other tidbits

Five different blends of tea were thrown into the water during the Boston Tea Party, the December 16th group said. And they haven’t faded into history – you can still sample and buy them in case you’d rather sip than sling your tea.

Check them out at Abigail’s Tea Room at Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. They are:

Some of the best places to visit in the United States

• Bohea: One of the first teas imported by the East India Company in the 18th-century.
• Congou: A black tea quite prestigious in Colonial America.
• Hyson: A spring green tea that was a favorite of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
• Singlo: A term for Chinese green tea that encompasses several varieties that are harvested later than early spring hysons.
• Souchong: A black tea from Fujian province of China with a distinctive smoky aroma.

The museum also features the Robinson Tea Chest, “the only known tea chest still in existence from the Boston Tea Party,” and a vial of tea on loan from Old North Foundation of Boston believed to be from the Tea Party.

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