Denis Cooke, a member of the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment and a volunteer at Washington Crossing Historic Park, says his most memorable reenactment moment took place during the 225th anniversary of the crossing.
That was back in 2001, when Washington Crossing Historic Park supplemented its annual Christmas reenactment with another reenactment, a few days later, of the nine-mile march to Trenton. Reenactors poured into the area from all over the east coast to reenact the march.
Denis remembers the pre-dawn bus ride just as vividly as the march itself.
In the middle of the night, the reenactors were bussed from the Trenton barracks to Washington Crossing Historic Park so that their cars would be waiting for them at the end of the march.
“After getting off the bus in the parking lot of the New Jersey park, I walked over to the riverbank of the Delaware River,” Denis says. “A couple hundred reenactors quietly milled about on both sides of the river. There were boats in the water sliding across the river, the air seemed dead calm, and campfires were ablaze on the Pennsylvania shore, casting shadows of men in tricorn hats. I got the chills, and I wondered if we had stirred up some ghosts who had decided to join us.”
Denis has remained a member of the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment since his first crossing reenactment in 1999. He portrays a private and is one of the reenactors who helps to pull the boats in on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. “It’s a nice vantage point over there because that’s where the boats come in, so you can see Washington come in,” he says.