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Washington’s Christmas crossing of Delaware saved by skilled students

Gen. George Washington, played by Bob Gerenser of New Hope, Pa., crossing the Delaware River during a past re-enactment of a crucial turning point in the American Revolution.

Due to recent low water levels in the Delaware River, it seemed as if Monday’s planned re-enactment of George Washington’s famous crossing from Pennsylvania to New Jersey would be cancelled.

But in the beginning of Monday the case had the green light thanks to some boats made by Philadelphia school children.

Huzzah! The hard work of the students will pay!!! #PhiladelphiaWaterborne #History #USHistory #AmRevhttps://t.co/bXIWtyleNM https://t.co/oIgw8urFBn

— Aaron Burr (@aaronburr_vp) 22 December 2017

Philadelphia Water-based, non-profit organization that teaches boat-building skills in the middle – and high-school students, is the lending of the event organizers, six handmade, 12-foot rowing boats.

The boats only draw about six inches of water, which means that they can get across the river under the current circumstances.

The water level must be at least 9 metres above sea level to the usual Durham boats, and the recent water levels are around 8.3 feet. The organisers had said a “pretty significant amount” of the precipitation would be needed for the improvement of the river, the water levels in time for the event.

Highlight event

Crossing the river the trek that turned the tide of the revolution — is the highlight of the annual event that attracts thousands of people to the banks of the river in Washington Crossing, Pa., and Titusville, N. J. It also has Washington rallying the troops and other historic speeches and processions

Boats ferried 2,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 18 cannons across the river at the original crossing. Washington’s troops marched eight miles downriver before fighting Hessian mercenaries in the streets of Trenton.

“This is just amazing, so perfect for the students. As part of this program, I wanted them to build something real and see that they could build things that are valuable to the community, that is the reason why in the context of Washington crossing event is so great. Their work shall be.”

Nicholas Pagon, founder and managing director, Philadelphia Water

Thirty Hessians were killed and two Continental soldiers froze to death on the march.

Organizers note there is a lot of the historical authenticity of this unique re-enactment. They find that while Durham boats were used in the original 1776 crossing, historians agree that Washington is probably used various river craft to his daring crossing.

Nicholas Pagon, founder and managing director of the Philadelphia Water-based program, said the agreement “suddenly came together.” He said that people in the cross case were aware of his program and asked if they had the boats that can be used.

“This is just amazing, so perfect for the students,” Pagon said Friday. “As part of this program, I wanted them to build something real and see that they could build things that are valuable to the community, that is the reason why in the context of Washington crossing event is so great. Their work shall be.”

Spreading the word

Approximately 75 students in Philadelphia are now involved in the program, and more than 200 have taken part overall since it began four years ago. Pagon said he plans to take part in the crossing on christmas day, and is spreading the word of students in the program, so they also to view.

Stakeholders believe that students learn best by doing. They make use of project-based, immersive and experiential programs — primarily small boat building, environmental education, and maritime history — as a means to engage students more fully in certain core curricula.

Did you know that? George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River on christmas night in 1776 resulted in a victory that changed the course of the Revolutionary War. Each year, hundreds gather in Washington Crossing, PA to look at a re-enactment. #PAproud pic.twitter.com/2cdoBQ31mb

— Pennsylvania (@PennsylvaniaGov) December 24, 2017

Small groups of students in the program meet weekly in their own schools to build small wooden boats as a team. This enables them to consider in the design and the cultural history of boats, together with the mathematics, the physics and the geometry that are needed for the project.

They eventually start and drive the completed boats on the local rivers.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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