For some, December 25th, is a day of celebration. The weeks of studying, writing, shopping are over and Christmas is finally here! Additionally, for some (including myself) it also serves as a great opportunity for many in Trenton, the capital city of nearby New Jersey, to witness a reenactment of the great story of George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware and the ensuing march toward Trenton.
In the immediate aftermath of the Christmas Day reenactment of General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing National Park, “Patriots Week” runs from December 26th through the 31st, and features of host of different events that explore the rich Revolutionary-era history of the City. On multiple occasions scattered throughout the week, Muralist Illia Barger will be creating a multi-panel mural depicting the 1776 Battle of Trenton at a “Pop-Up Art Space” on East State Street. This is just one of many opportunities for residents and visitors to soak in all that the City of Trenton has to offer. Tours of the Old Barracks Museum, the house of Trenton Founder William Trent, the City Museum, and the State House are all open to the public. You might even catch a glimpse of 2016 presidential hopeful Governor Chris Christie!
Of particular interest to budding historians are two central events to the city’s Patriots Week. The first is the reenactment of the First Battle of Trenton. Spectators can walk up and down the sidewalks of Downton Trenton and witness soldiers of the Continental Army and Hessian forces engage in skirmishes on the same streets as they did 239 years prior. The continental troops march out from the Old Barracks Museum just before noon on December 27th and meet their mercenary counterparts. Later in the day, members of the Trenton Friends society will lead a walking tour of the Revolutionary-era sights, starting at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.
The other event that may be of interest to historians who have an unquenchable thirst for research materials is an open viewing of the actual Ach that George Washington rode under during his presidential inauguration, as well as a number of other items and primary sources that are house at the Trenton Free Public Library. The library’s archives are also home to a complete collection of the local newspaper The Trentonian’s records, as well as a host of other primary sources, which are available for research use. The open house and reception hosted on Wednesday, December 30th, allows visitors to get familiar with the library and learn how to access these research sources.
Between historical reenactments, live art exhibitions, discussion panels, and tours, the history of New Jersey’s capital city comes alive during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. The week ends with an evening vigil for peace and a performance of the New Jersey Capital Philharmonic Orchestra. In a year when the December temperatures are hitting record highs, Trenton’s Patriots Week offers a great deal for those fascinated with the history of the city, the state, and the nation.