The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal will celebrate Twain’s 185th birthday Nov. 28 with an old-fashioned birthday party for children, the annual Mustache and Beard Competition and a tree-lighting ceremony.

The birthday party will be the first of the day’s events with four time slots with 10 children in each slot. Because of the pandemic, the times are staggered throughout the day at 10 and 11 a.m. and again at 1 and 2 p.m.

“This way we’ll be able to social-distance the children and spread them out with the different activities we’ll have,” said Melissa Cummins, the marketing and community relations manager of the museum.

The event is free for children 2-10 with an adult. Hannibal’s Tom and Becky ambassadors will host the event. Registration is required.

The children who participate will be able to make arts and crafts projects with natural and recycled materials, Cummins said. The children will also play Mark Twain-themed childhood games with an old-fashioned twist.

Instead of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, for instance, children will pin the stash on Mark Twain. They will also play musical mustaches instead of musical chairs.

The annual Mustache and Beard Competition is the second of the day’s events, starting at 3 p.m.

In honor of No Shave November and Mark Twain’s birthday, this event challenges contestants to grow full facial hair. In the past, the event was restricted to mustaches, but this year, the list of categories has expanded to include beards.

All proceeds go to James E. Carey Cancer Center, a treatment facility in Hannibal.

The entry fee for the competition is $5, with Schmidt and White Barbershop agreeing to match all donations. The barbershop is also sponsoring the prizes.

To close the night, Cummins said a tree on the grounds outside Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home will be lit. The event is set to begin at 5 p.m. with a performance by the Salvation Army Brass Band, followed by caroling led by the Tom and Becky ambassadors.

Children and adults are welcome to bring homemade ornaments to be placed on the tree prior to the countdown at dusk.

When the Christmas tree is lit at dusk, Cummins said it is “the end of celebrating Mark Twain’s birthday but the beginning of the holiday season.”

  • Community reporter, fall 2020. I am a first-year graduate student studying magazine journalism. I can be reached at, or in the newsroom at 573-882-5700

Recommended for you