On a frosty Christmas Day in 1776, General George Washington led a raw group of soldiers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania across the Delaware River in a surprise attack against mercenaries fighting for the King George III. It was a brash move for its time, and had it not gone as well as it had, we might all still be speaking British English.
So it is that, for the past few decades, a dedicated group has assembled on the banks of the Delaware on December 25 to reenact the crossing. If you’re free that day at 1 p.m., you can be there too. But we’re going to let you in on a little secret courtesy of the Freschi family: You can spend Christmas at home and still catch the reenactment by going to the dress rehearsal.
When their boys were younger, the Freschis discovered that all the participants in the reenactment gather at Washington Crossing, Pa. early in December to make sure they’ve got the details right. This year, the dress rehearsal will be held on Sunday, December 11, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The folks at Washington Crossing Historic Park strive to make the dress rehearsal every much an event as the reenactment itself. “During the dress rehearsal, the troops cross the river in uniform just as they do on Christmas Day, plus additional activities and demonstrations take place throughout the historic village,” said John Godzieba, president of the Friends of Washington Crossing Park in a press release. Godzieba is in a position to know: He’s the guy who currently plays General Washington.
Whether you go for the reenactment or the dress rehearsal, the cost is the same–$8 for adults, $5 for seniors and children age 10 to 18, and free for children under 10. Washington Crossing Park is located on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware at the intersection of routes 32 and 532. Those are not main roads, so you’re going to have to plan on a 90-minute drive from Verona, traveling the Garden State Parkway south to Route 1 south. Upper Makefield, Pa. is a nearby town that Google Maps recognizes, so use the map below for more exact directions.
Home page photo by Nosha via Flickr.