Image: Gibson
Joseph Kaczmarek  /  AP
James Gibson, center, waves to spectators as he portrays Gen. George Washington during the 53rd annual Christmas day crossing of the Delaware River on Sunday.
updated 12/25/2005 6:22:51 PM ET 2005-12-25T23:22:51

Hundreds of spectators along the Delaware River saw the first complete re-enactment since 2001 of Gen. George Washington’s historic crossing.

Unlike the past three attempts, when days of precipitation pushed water levels and speeds above safety levels, this Christmas presented a more placid route from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.

Jim Gibson, portraying Washington in a full uniform replete with sword and peaked cap, and about 60 of his fellow re-enactors made it across in two longboats just as a raw mist became a steady rain.

“Rain doesn’t stop us,” said Gibson, 53, of Fallsington, Pa., who has been part of the re-enactment for 15 years. “We do these things in all sorts of weather.”

The actual crossing took place in the dark, in driving sleet, starting on Christmas night 1776 and finishing early the next day. The sentries’ passwords: “Victory or death.”

The army went on to key victories in Trenton and Princeton, reversing the declining fortunes of the Continental Army.

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