Annual Re-enactment Of Washington's Crossing Draws 7,500
Dec. 25, 1987
WASHINGTON'S CROSSING, Pa. (AP) _ It was a snowy Christmas night 211 years ago when Gen. George Washington left here by boat with his rookie troops, crossed the Delaware River and attacked celebrating British mercenaries at nearby Trenton, N.J.
It was a victory that turned the tide for independence and was celebrated in the painting ''Washington Crossing the Delaware'' by German artist Emanuel Leutze.
On Friday afternoon a crowd of nearly 7,500 lined the banks on both sides of the river and watched and cheered the annual Revolutionary War re-enactment under a dreary sky, a tradition that began 35 years ago.
By the time the boats shoved off, the drizzly rain stopped.
Charles Gallagher, impersonating Washington, stood in the bow of one of four Durham rowboats - each carrying 25 men - and was rowed across the Delaware to the New Jersey shore, about 300 yards away.
There he and the ''officers'' debarked and walked back to Pennsyslvania across a bridge that now spans the Delaware.
The boatmen rowed back.
''It was great,'' Gallagher said. ''Everything went fine. The decks of the boats were a little wet because of the early rain, so we had to be careful not to slip in getting on and off.''
The trip, arranged under the aupices of the Washington Crossing Historic Park, was completed faster than usual because of the overcast weather.
''There were no problems,'' said Karen Horwath, guide supervisor at the park.
Gallagher, resplendent in an authentic Colonial uniform and tri-cornered hat, took it all in stride. He has been protraying Washington ever since Jack Kelly, a former Philadelphia city councilman and ex-Olympic rower, died in 1985 after many years of acting out the part of the general.
Gallagher had ordered a new set of oars from a Maine manufacturer this year and dispatched Richard Bray of nearby Newtown to fetch them.
''It was some coincidence,'' Gallagher told a reporter by telephone. ''Bray is a direct descendant of Daniel Bray, the officer Washington assigned to round up the boats and make sure none were around for the British.''
Gallagher, who sells real estate, was pleased by the crowd.
''The people were cheerful, waving flags, taking many, many pictures, and calling out greetings to George,'' he said.
''What made me really happy was when I heard some of them say, 'He really looks like George.'''