Michael Mello, OC Register:

Abigail Adams spent her Monday morning examining the exhibits at the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum. She tactfully smiled and patiently answered questions from other visitors, strolling through the museum as a proper first lady would, stopping only to adjust her long gown and to reset the towering white wig on her head. These were among the few hints that Mrs. Adams was actually an 11-year-old sixth grader from Buena Park, Sarah Hultman.

Each year at the Nixon Library, presidential impersonators take up the mantle of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson to mingle with the crowd and answer questions about the historical figures’ lives.

Hultman decided to come in costume herself as the wife of Washington’s successor, John Adams.

“We came last year, and I wanted to dress up, too,” Hultman said.

She already had a costume and a wig handy from a school performance. All that was left was to assume the airs and social duties of a first lady.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said as another person stopped to ask her questions.

A tsunami of children, Boy Scouts and parents poured into the library, taking advantage of Monday’s free admission at the library, courtesy of the National Archives and the Richard Nixon Foundation. The parking lot filled completely within 10 minutes of the library opening.

Emmalie, 8, and Halle Southerland, 5, attended as part of a field trip for their home schooling. Their mother, Stephanie Southerland of Lake Forest, wanted to steep them in presidential history as part of their learning: How the presidents lived, and what their eras were like.

The two girls met with the presidents in attendance and even tried on bonnets like girls would have sported in Washington’s day.

“I want to open their eyes to something larger than Orange County,” Stephanie Southerland said.

Besides, she joked, “We got paid to come here. We got a penny from Abe.”

Click here to view the slide-show.

Photo courtesy of Paul Berseback, The Orange County Register