That's Our George Washington
Ever chatted with George Washington? How about nine George Washingtons? That's how many men were impersonating the Revolutionary War general at a competition for the role of re-enactor at Washington Crossing, PA on Sunday, Sept. 16. Dressed in period costume and tri-corner hats, the Georges battled to win the hearts and minds of a panel of judges from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
The winner would appear in a number of events, including the annual re-enactment of the Delaware crossing on Dec. 25, 1776.
Each Washington stepped onto the stage in the Washington Crossing Historic Park visitor center auditorium, posturing in front of a huge reproduction of Emanuel Leutze's "Washington Crossing the Delaware."
The judges quizzed the Revolutionary War generals, asking them to describe economic conditions of the time, troop movements and battle strategies. The classic historical re-enactor's dilemma -- "How would you handle first person vs. third person interpretations to answer visitor questions?" was put to each Washington. Then all had an opportunity for a spirited address to "the troops" -- in this case, the media, family, and visitors sitting in the audience.
A few Washingtons forgot lines in their speeches, or let an anachronism slip into their answers, or resorted to too much William Shatner "Yangs and Congs" styling (of course we liked that part).
Yet all seemed well-versed in their character's biography, the Revolutionary War and period, and took every volley from the judging panel with fortitude and bravery.
The questioning and oratory went on for over two hours.
The judges adjourned to make a decision. The Washingtons sat on stage for long, uncomfortable minutes, awaiting word of who would lead the Colonial Army to victory for the next year. Some appeared relaxed, while others fidgeted nervously.
Finally, the judges elected their new George Washington -- Ronald Rinaldi (along with an understudy, Ward Vincent). A period honor guard outside fired three rounds of musket shot. The George Washingtons -- really, all winners -- got in their cars and drove to their homes in our Land of the Free.[09/16/2007]
Washington Crossing Historic Park
- River Rd, Washington Crossing, PA
- Rt. 532, at 4-way stop, turn left onto Rt. 32, Visitor Center is on the right, parking on left.
- Christmas Day crossing 1 pm. (Call to verify)
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