A pretty incredible thing happened a decade ago along the Delaware River.
Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and then-Governor Ed Rendell slashed the budget for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, forcing the closure of the Washington Crossing Historic Park to the public.
Overnight, tours of the park’s historic buildings stopped. Bowman’s Hill Tower, the iconic Bucks County landmark, was shuttered. And the reenactment of George Washington’s Christmas Day crossing of the Delaware River—held without interruption since the fifties—appeared to be in serious jeopardy.
Power to the people
A group of Bucks County residents, determined to save the reenactment, rallied the surrounding community, and staged a fundraiser that brought in enough to salvage the 2009 crossing. And they didn’t stop there. The group went on to earn nonprofit status.
Today, the Friends of Washington Crossing Park, as it’s known, funds and operates the park, its facilities, and its programming in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. If you’ve been to the park recently and participated in a tour, a guest lecture, or any number of annual events, like the fall harvest day, sheep shearing at the Thompson-Neely House, or the Christmas Day reenactment, that’s the Friends’ doing.
Toasting the heroes
On September 28, the nonprofit’s celebrating the 10th anniversary of its inception and raising some funding for its programs in the process at an affair dubbed Colonial Cocktails & Cuisine—and you’re invited.
With lanterns lighting the pathways in the park’s historic village, different small plates and colonial-era cocktails will be served in each of the buildings.
If you want to really sink into the evening at Washington Crossing Park, come dressed as your favorite Revolutionary War-era figure. (Though, if you can name one outside of Washington, that was probably the plan.) Date night clothes will do otherwise. It’ll still be fun to party in places that are usually off-limits at night.
Tickets are available here.
We’re surrounded by so much history throughout the Delaware River Towns, and it’s easy to take it for granted. If, however, the park had remained closed and the buildings became ruins, it’s something we all would have felt. Because of the park’s central location, sure, but also, and even more importantly, because of the crossing’s place in our very existence.
We owe the Friends in a big way. A toast would be a good place to start.