Submitted by pparente on

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     CONTACT:  Joe Laufer, ext. 5020

Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012                                                                                        Pat Parente, ext. 3081

            Drawing on his extensive portfolio of research on local history topics, Burlington County Historian Joe Laufer is launching a new lecture program that will be held on the second Wednesday of the month in the meeting room of the Burlington County Library headquarters in Westampton.

            Sponsored by the Burlington County Library System, the new “Second Wednesday Lecture Series” is open to the public and admission is free.

            Entitled “Commemorating Columbus,” the inaugural talk will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m., two days after Columbus Day. The discussion will focus on Laufer’s preoccupation 20 years ago with the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ epic journey from Spain to the “New World.” At the time, Laufer was an official spokesman for the Columbus Quincentenary. He published an international newsletter called “Discovery 500’ and lectured extensively on Columbus, often dressed as the explorer himself. Joe also served as the official greeter at Penn’s Landing when the replicas of Columbus’ ships, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, were on display in Philadelphia.

            These days, Laufer’s costume is in storage, but he will use images from his extensive photo gallery to revisit the 1992 Quincentenary, as well as the previous four commemoration celebrations. In addition, Laufer will share his own “discoveries” conducting extensive on-site research in the 1990s while visiting Columbus’ haunts in Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. The lecture will not shy away from some of the controversy associated with the Quincentenary and Columbus himself, and will offer insight into the significance of the explorer’s four journeys and multiple discoveries.

            On Nov. 14 at 7 p.m., Laufer’s “Second Wednesday” lecture will focus on the historic one-room schoolhouses of Burlington County and serve as a preview of the self-guided tour of historic schoolhouses being offered on Nov. 17 by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of New Jersey and the Burlington County Freeholders. Planned in celebration of National Education Month and offered every other year, the tour gives visitors access to the historic sites that are seldom open to the public and an opportunity to enjoy interactive activities at each location. This year, seven one-room schoolhouses are being highlighted and Laufer’s illustrated lecture will offer a virtual glimpse of these preserved treasures of early Burlington County public and private education.

            On Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., in the spirit of the hype and apprehension associated with the date that falls just before the last day of the Mayan calendar (Dec. 21), Laufer will talk about “Coping with 12/12/12: Halley’s Comet, The Other Portent of Doom.” Laufer will draw on his experiences in 1984/1985 when he was known as “The Comet Man” for his efforts as an educator about the most famous of comets. His talk will mainly focus on the whimsy associated with the return of Halley’s Comet and the superstitions it spawned, leading to the creation of unusual antidotes to ward off exaggerated evil effects of comet dust and the possible destruction of Earth because of the comet’s imagined collision course with our planet.

            Burlington County Library headquarters is located on Pioneer Boulevard in Westampton. Registration for the “Second Wednesday Lecture Series” is recommended by going to www.bcls.lib.nj.us and clicking on the “events” tab. For more information, go to www.BurlcoHistorian.com or call (609) 267-9660, ext. 5020.

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