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Concord prepares to celebrate Thoreau’s 200th birthday

A statue of Henry David Thoreau in front of a reproduction of his cabin at the Walden Pond Reservation.John Tlumacki/globe staff/Globe Staff

Sorry, Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you ever wondered whether Concord loved you best of all the 19th-century authors buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, don’t go haunting your old neighborhood this week.

In this quintessential New England town west of Boston, it’s all about Henry David Thoreau.

The author of “Walden” and “Civil Disobedience” was born in Concord on July 12, 1817, and the town is pulling out the stops for his 200th birthday. On Wednesday, visitors can “Be Thoreau” at the Concord Museum — sitting at a replica of his simple green desk and writing a birthday message in a journal. Or they can try to survive in the woods by playing “Walden, a game” — a new video game developed by the University of Southern California’s Game Innovation Lab. See


At the Thoreau Farm, the naturalist’s birthplace, the US Postal Service plans to hold a special dedication of the recently released stamp of him.

Meanwhile, the Concord Free Public Library has unveiled an exhibition about Thoreau and his home town called “Concord, which is my Rome.” It features manuscript materials, letters, photographs, maps, surveys, and related artwork from the library’s William Munroe Special Collections. A gala opening will be held on Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. Go to

Not to be outdone, the Thoreau Society is hosting “the largest Thoreau event of the year” — its annual gathering and bicentennial celebration of the author’s life, works, and legacy. The fun starts Tuesday at 3 p.m. and doesn’t let up until Sunday at 9 p.m., with panel discussions, nature walks, and socializing. Visit for details.

And what’s happening at Walden Pond, where Thoreau built a one-room cabin in 1845 to conduct his famed “experiment in simplicity”? From noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, “Henry’s Watermelon Party” will take place at the Thoreau House Replica near the main parking lot, where visitors can enjoy a slice with historian Richard Smith, who has portrayed Thoreau for the past 18 years.


Meander over to the new earth-friendly Walden Pond Visitor Center for a recital of songs from the Thoreau Family Flute Book from 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. And enjoy a view of the pond from 3:30 to 5 p.m. as selections from “Walden” are read aloud. (For even more events, visit

Emerson would be so jealous!

Leslie Anderson can be reached at