At the National Constitution Center, we make a big deal out of Constitution Day as an all-day event. But we aren’t the only Americans who are celebrating the 226th birthday of our founding document on Tuesday, September 17.
If you are in the Philadelphia area on Tuesday and have time to drop by the Center, you’ll encounter thousands of people, all-day events, three public debate programs—and a lot of birthday cake—as we offer free admission.
In addition, we have an American National Tree Induction Ceremony, and a naturalization ceremony, and you may bump into Representative John Lewis or civic activist Mary Beth Tinker inside the museum.
But we don’t have a monopoly on all the fun for Constitution Day, and here are some of the interesting activities we found out about around the country, by doing a little searching on the Internet.
1. Toast the Constitution (virtually)
The Center for Alcohol Policy and the Bill of Rights Institute, in partnership with the National Constitution Center’s American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition exhibit, has online Constitution Day resources about Prohibition for schools.
As part of the lesson, students learn about the roles of historical figures from the era by taking on their identities for a dinner party.
2. Toast the Constitution (literally)
Our friends at James Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia have added a wine festival for their annual Constitution Day Celebration on Sept. 21. The festival brings together Virginia wineries, cider houses, breweries and artisans. (As an FYI, the Founding Fathers were more in the category of cider and whiskey drinkers, but Thomas Jefferson was a huge wine fan.)
3. Dance and the Constitution
Yes, Vanderbilt University will mark Constitution Day with a panel discussion about immigration and education, followed by a Latin dance celebration!
Music for the dance will be provided by Leon Berrios (one of the panelists) and Revolfusion! Dance instruction will be available in the merengue, salsa, bachata, and cumbia.
4. Go to a naturalization ceremony
If you can’t attend our naturalization ceremony in Philadelphia, you want to see if there is one near your home town. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will welcome more than 18,000 new citizens this week.
You can track the ceremonies and see if there is one near you at this link (and you can also use the Twitter hash tag #USCIS).
5. Here come the judges and lawyers
In Indiana, nearly four dozen county and appellate judges will visit 119 schools across the state this week in honor of Constitution Day. Other judges will be making speeches at local venues around the county: Check your local events listings. In Texas, about 100 attorneys in the Houston area will visit schools.
6. Participate in court
In Kansas, you can do more than hear judges speak. A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will hear seven cases on Sept. 17 at Wichita State University. The real-life hearings will be held on campus and are open to the public. Students and audience members will be able to ask the judges questions after the hearings.
7. See an entire appeals court
If three judges aren’t enough for you, how about nine? All nine justices of the California 5th District Court of Appeal will gather for a free, public event in Fresno, California on Constitution Day. The appearance is at Fresno State from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
8. A constitutional pie eating contest
The University of Kentucky will feature a pie-eating contest and a Henry Clay portrayer among its Constitution Day festivities. A lucky freshman student also gets to portray Betsy Ross.
9. The Founding Fathers and Facebook
One of the more interesting panel discussions on Tuesday will be in New York state, where SUNY Cortland’s Institute for Civic Engagement will consider what the Founding Fathers would think of Facebook during its annual Constitution Day lecture.
Most schools, colleges, universities and legal institutions have some type of this week about the Constitution: Check your local websites for more information!
10. Look for the Constitution on “Jeopardy”
According to the ACLU, which has its educational effort about Constitution Day, a special category devoted to the Constitution will appear on the national television show “Jeopardy” on September 17.
If you can’t wait for Alex Trebek, there are online versions of Constitution Jeopardy that are used by schools and are fun to play. Use any search engine to find them!
Constitution Day Resources