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Party with Thoreau like it’s 1849

Barnstable Land Trust to host weekend-long reading honoring Thoreau’s ode to Cape Cod.

MARSTONS MILLS—Henry David Thoreau first visited what he called "the bared and bended arm of Massachusetts" in October 1849, and documented the experience in his book Cape Cod.

About 50 people from the Cape and Islands will take turns reading excerpts aloud at Fuller Farm this weekend. The first event of its kind, hosted by Barnstable Land Trust, will stretch across 10 hours on Saturday and Sunday.  

Richard Smith will read first, in character as Thoreau.

"I've always been obsessed with the mid-19th Century," Smith, a historian at Walden Pond in Concord, told Morning Edition host Patrick Flanary. "The things Thoreau wrote about government and nature and human rights really resonate with me."

Smith discussed Thoreau's legacy and where he might fall on the political spectrum today — even though Thoreau neither belonged to a political party nor ever voted.

"The anarchists on the left love him, the libertarians on the right also quote him," Smith said. "He really believed in the ideal that all men are created equal. He wanted to see a government that respected the rights of all individuals — not just white men over the age of 21."

The reading begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with parking and shuttles available at West Villages Elementary School.

The event is happening rain or shine, and will stream here.

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.