WASHINGTON CROSSING, Pa .– Hundreds of people gathered on both sides of the Delaware River to witness an annual Christmas Day re-enactment of George Washington’s 1776 crossing, a year after pandemic restrictions forced viewers to watch it online.
Reconstructions of three boats completed the crossing in about an hour on Saturday afternoon with overcast skies but fairly mild temperatures, a spokesperson for Washington Crossing Historic Park said.
Earlier this month, around 5,000 people attended a dress rehearsal for the War of Independence reenactment in good weather and good water conditions, said Friends of Washington Crossing Park volunteer Tom Maddock, calling it that of “great day”.
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In 2020, after crowd size restrictions banned the traditional event from being held in person, park officials released a video of a re-enactment filmed earlier in the month offering what they called a “close-up view”. This year, people entering the reception center were asked to wear masks, and workers were also masked, officials said.
In years past, thousands of people have often gathered every Christmas morning on the banks of the river in Washington Crossing, Pa., And Titusville, New Jersey, to watch pageants set off by boats to trace the daring 1776 voyage of Washington and his troops.
In 2019, the crossing was completed for the first time in three years with what the Friends of Washington Crossing Park said was likely a record crowd of 4,500 to 5,000. The crossing had been scuttled during the previous two years, first by high winds and then by high tides.
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Other activities at the annual event include reenactments of Washington’s address to his troops, historic speeches and processions, and period-clad staff providing public interpretation.
In the original crossing, boats carried 2,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 18 cannons across the river. Washington’s troops marched eight miles downstream before fighting Hessian mercenaries in the streets of Trenton. Thirty Hessians were killed and two Continental soldiers froze to death during the march.