UPPER MAKEFIELD >> A capacity crowd turned out on Sunday afternoon to serenade General George Washington with a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday.”
As smartphones rolled and wide-eyed kids watched, Washington, dressed in his striking blue and gold uniform, used a three-foot-long sword to slice through his red, white and blue birthday cake.
Borrowing from the immortal words of Thomas Paine and adjusting them to fit the occasion, Washington said, “These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves birthday cake.
“And since you stayed and are part of this birthday army, you will have your cake,” he continued.
Laughter and applause greeted his words inside the Visitors Center as the general, portrayed by John Godzieba, went on to thank everyone for being part of his 288th birthday celebration and especially the kids for an avalanche of birthday cards and letters.
And true to his word, a few moments later the soldiers joined Miss Bucks County Sarah Jayne Hughes of Fairless Hills and US Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick in handing out slices of birthday cake and bottles of water to the crowd.
“This is one of those celebrations at Washington Crossing Historic Park that’s amazing,” said Godzieba. “The crowd, the excitement and just the enjoyment of everybody here. And the immense amount of birthday cards that I received. This is a fantastic day.”
He added that Washington would have enjoyed the celebration. “He enjoyed a good party and this was one of them,” he said. “And I’m so glad so many people came out for this.”
The birthday party was organized and hosted by the Friends of Washington Crossing Historic Park and highlighted a free day of living history and children’s activities in the park that included musket firings and soldier drills, artillery demonstrations, Colonial craft and trade demonstrations, tours of the McConkey's Ferry Inn, fife and drum music, a history-themed scavenger hunt, Colonial games, crafts and an opportunity to dress up like a Colonial or a Revolutionary soldier.
New Jersey author Jeff Finnegan, who has penned three books about America’s first President, also joined in the festivities with a book signing.