Holiday Hours: Presidents Day

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Gen. George Washington taking command of the Continental Army in Cambridge in 1775.

Washington's Birthday will be celebrated on Monday, Feb. 17.

The holiday was first enacted by Congress in 1879 to mark George Washington's birthday on Feb. 22 and later moved to the third Monday in February in 1968. While the name of the federal holiday remains Washington's Birthday, it is more often referred to as Presidents Day to include the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on Feb. 12.

Washington was born in 1732 (or Feb. 11, 1731, according to the old-style calendar) in Colonial Virginia. A Founding Father, he would lead the new nation as head of the Continental Army in the Revolution and as its first president under the U.S. Constitution for two terms. He died Dec. 14, 1799, at his home in Mount Vernon.

His military background brought him to Cambridge in 1775 as commander of the newly formed army just months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Cannon taken from Fort Ticonderoga were dragged through the Berkshires on their way to Dorchester Heights, where Washington placed them to force the British out of Boston in 1776. (Celebrated in Suffolk County as Evacuation Day on March 17.)

During the yearlong siege, Washington stayed at a house that would later become known as the home of literary giant Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a frequent visitor to the Berkshires. His vice president was John Adams of Quincy, who would become the first president to live in the new capital of Washington, D.C.

Lincoln, our 16th president who led the nation through a bloody Civil War, was born in 1809 in Kentucky. During September 1848, he spoke at the Whig convention in Worcester as well as in New Bedford, Dedham, Lowell and Boston but apparently not the Berkshires. His son, Robert Todd Lincoln, attended Harvard and later lived in Manchester, Vt., at Hildene.

While Washington and Lincoln never slept here, a number of other presidents did, or at least spent time in the Berkshires.

In Massachusetts, the holiday is "unrestricted" in that businesses may open at will without permits or special pay provisions.

Closed:
Federal, state and local offices; no mail delivery.
Stock market


Banks
Most public libraries will be closed
Colleges and schools (most schools are on winter break for the week)

Open:
BRTA running
Restaurants and bars
Convenience stores
Retail stores
Most offices and businesses
 


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CDC Releases Guidance for Trick-or-Treating

Staff Reports
Local governments will be taking up the question of Halloween activities in the coming weeks but it looks like traditional trick-or-treating is out this year. And don't think that plastic costume mask is a substitute for the cloth one you're wearing now. 
 
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control released its guidance for the candy-flavored holiday with activity levels of low, moderate and high for transmission of the novel coronavirus that has infected nearly 7 million in the United States and killed more than 200,000.
 
Not surprisingly, going door to door to have treats handed out is among the riskier activities. The same goes for handing out candy from cars lined up in parking lots. Both mean interacting with or getting close to people who may not be in your "pod" -- those individuals with whom you have been isolating with over the past six months. 
 
Also out are crowded parties and haunted houses held indoors, and even tractor or hayrides with people not in your household. 
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