BOALSBURG — The five people took turns reading aloud the Declaration of Independence, but Charles Dumas got the most famous line.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Dumas said in a rich, deep voice to an audience of about 35 people.
Dumas, a Penn State professor and a professional actor and director, helped present the Declaration on Sunday as part of an early Fourth of July celebration held on the Boal Mansion grounds.
Christopher Lee, the CEO of the Boal Mansion and one of the readers, organized the free garden party — complete with refreshments and a flag cake — in honor of his ancestor’s role in the nation’s start. Richard Henry Lee wrote the June 1776 resolution that led to the Declaration he signed.
Sunday’s event also reaffirmed Boalsburg’s ties. Christopher Lee’s father, former Maryland Gov. Blair Lee III, married Mimi Boal, a sixth-generation resident of the Boal Mansion.
Other readers were Art Goldschmidt, of State College; French visitor Josephine Dufloux; and Tim O’Donnell, a Boal Mansion summer intern from Bellefonte.
“We wanted to bring the document to life,” Christopher Lee said.
Marilyn Haugh, of State College, enjoyed the reading from a shaded bench. She had wanted to come to the annual event for years.
“I’m a patriot so I’m thrilled,” she said. “I’m disappointed more people weren’t here. More people need to know what the Declaration of Independence is.”
Afterward, she followed local master gardener Doug Ford on an excursion through the mansion gardens, one of the afternoon activities. Some toured the mansion and the nearby Columbus Chapel, while others listened to an outdoors 18th century-style salon discussion of the Declaration with Lee, Dumas and others.
Lee is running for state legislature in the 171st House District, and Dumas is running for Congress from the 5th District, which includes Centre County. Neither campaigned at Sunday’s event.
Lee also will read the Declaration at about 6 p.m. on July Fourth in Beaver Stadium while appearing with the 148th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment Civil War re-enactors.
Richard Young, of Bigler, was glad he and his wife, Sandra, came to Sunday’s reading, their first visit to Boal Mansion.
“It was nice to hear it being read by a number of people,” he said. “It gave it more emphasis.”
Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620. Follow him on Twitter @CRosenblumNews