Safety concerns kept George Washington from completing his annual Christmas Day ride across the Delaware River but that didn’t stop thousands from gathering to remember one of the most pivotal moments in American history.
“Without this stuff people would never know what we had to go through to get where we are today,” said one man dressed like an 18th century soldier.
The 60th annual re-enactment of Washington's daring Christmas 1776 crossing of the river -- the trek that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War -- was staged Tuesday on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey border.
“It took something this build to turn the tide of the revolution,” said Washington Crossing Historic Park administrator Joan Hauger.
Officials say the boat entered the channel and riverbank areas, but could not complete the full trip due to high water conditions in the river. Similar problems have occurred in recent years, including two occasions where bad weather and high water levels forced reenactors to abandon the water crossing and walk across a bridge instead.
Thousands gather each year for the free event, where they hear Washington's stand-in, portrayed this year by John Godzieba, deliver stirring words to the troops and watch three boats make the crossing from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.
“We always have to know where we come from,” Godzieba said.
During the crossing 234 years ago, boats ferried 2,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 18 cannons across the river, and the troops marched 8 miles downriver before battling Hessian mercenaries in the streets of Trenton. Thirty Hessians were killed and two Continental soldiers froze to death on the march, but none died in battle.
The victory electrified the struggling nation and led to further military successes in New Jersey.