Washington crossing reenactment goes virtual on Christmas morning
TRENTON — On Christmas 1776, Gen. George Washington led a group of American soldiers across the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey, to ambush Hessian troops supporting the British in Trenton.
The recreated image of Washington crossing the Delaware during the Revolution has become an iconic piece of Americana, and is reenacted every Christmas Day by a group of approximately 250 actors working with Washington Crossing Historic Park.
Like so many other events in 2020, an in-person option for this annual event was just not feasible this year, but organizers will be putting it online for all to see.
Jennifer Martin, executive director of Friends of Washington Crossing Park, said Philadelphia-based 20/20 Visual Media was contracted to produce the video, which will be made available through the park's website at 10 a.m. Friday.
Martin said the videographers made sure those who attend the crossing every year would be able to see everything they usually do ... plus more than a few extras.
"You can also see things you wouldn't get to see, so you can see views from the water, you can see drone footage from over top. Some of their gentlemen that were filming were actually in boats while filming this," she said. "You can see a 360-degree view of the boats as they go across. You can see up-close shots of the cannon. You can see faces of the re-enactors out on the water."
For many who have made a habit of attending the reenactment every year, which can be up to 6,000 people, they may never have gotten a front-row seat. So the park looked at this not as a challenge, but an opportunity to expand the event's appeal.
Also, Martin said there are those who have tired of the tight parking, or have other holiday commitments, or have moved out of the area. For any of those people, Martin hopes some of the virtual elements, including potential live-streaming, will be retained even when the public is allowed to congregate again.
"Filming this has really allowed us to reach those people, and we'd love to kind of carry over some of those elements next year, where we can not only provide the crossing experience for the people that can come to the park, but also for the people that can't," she said. "If you've been here or if you haven't been here, we hope that you'll watch it, and we hope that you'll use it as a tool, to share with people some of the history that goes on here."
The nonprofit park is 75% program-driven, according to Martin, and with programs obviously reduced this year, organizers will be making an appeal for donations along with the video. But Martin said Bucks County has been a willing and generous partner in bringing this new film to fruition (the Jersey-side Washington Crossing Park straddles Mercer and Hunterdon counties).