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Annual Monroe crossing parade in New Hope: history, cannon fire, men in tights

coryell cannonJust as they’ve done every year since 1984, Coryell’s Ferry Militia, led by history buff and ice cream purveyor Bob Gerenser, will again commemorate former U.S. President James Monroe’s historic crossing of the Delaware River in 1776.

Current militia members Lt. Bob Gerenser, Jr., Justine Oleksa Walters, Steve Rote, Mary F. Coffee, Elaine McNeely, G.A. Cristiano and Ron Gehring will gather at 12 noon on Dec. 14 at the parking lot of the former Odette’s (127 River Road) to lead a parade in military formation to Ferry Street, where an artillery demonstration and river crossing will be staged. Say organizers, “The best place for parade watchers is between Ferry and Mechanic streets on South Main Street. Anyone participating in the parade and dressed in full 18th Century gear meets at Odette’s.

“All citizens of New Hope and the surrounding areas are welcome to participate as long as they are dressed in proper colonial garb and are in good health,” says the group.

The firing of a historic old cannon is one of the event’s highlights, and for those who enjoy a good explosion now and then, this piece of artillery doesn’t disappoint. The bang is loud as all get-out, and those manning the weapon have described the experience in glowing Freudian terms.

“Preeminent among the events during the winter of 1776 was the vital mission carried out by then-Lieutenant James Monroe and Captain William Washington (George’s third cousin),” according to the Coryell’s Ferry Militia. “General George Washington asked for volunteers to cross the Delaware River at dusk ahead of his party to cut off communications between the British stationed at Princeton and the Hessian mercenaries billeted in the old French and Indian War Barracks at Trenton.

“Just at dusk, Captain William Washington, Lieutenant James Monroe and 57 private soldiers crossed at Coryell’s Ferry, PA into the Jersies. The troops went to their post at the Princeton-Pennington Road and successfully completed their mission,” according to the militia.

Some historians argue that Monroe actually accompanied General George Washington further south in that U.S. President’s famous Delaware River crossing, but evidence exists to support both accounts. What is known for certain is that Monroe, the man who would go on to become the fifth U.S. President, fought admirably and was wounded in the Battle of Trenton, carrying the round that hit him in his shoulder until his death on July 4, 1831.

Through the annual Monroe crossing commemoration, Coryell’s Ferry militia aims to keep alive Monroe’s story of triumph, along with the historically significant role played by New Hope and Lambertville during the American Revolutionary War.

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein

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