UPPER MAKEFIELD >> The banks of the Delaware River literally exploded with the sights and sounds of the Revolution on the Fourth of July.
Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, a crowd numbering in the hundreds watched spinning and weaving demonstrations, learned wool washing and about Colonial medicine and played games from the 1700s.
Artillery demonstrations had children cupping their ears as canon fire blasted toward the Delaware River engulfing the banks in a sulfur-ladened smoky fog.
Standing on the steps of the McConkey’s Ferry Inn, Washington Crossing native Tom Madock of Yardley read the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson that set the stage for the Revolutionary War.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” his said as the words fell on the ears of the assembled crowd, much as they did in communities throughout the 13 Colonies in 1776.
As Madock read the document, the gathering heard a lengthy list of grievances made against the king and the reasons why the colonies were declaring their independence from Britain.
As Madock concluded the reading, he joined the crowd in shouting, “Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!”
In front of the Durham boat house, re-enactor Paul Beck was busy mustering youngsters into the Colonial Army, equipping each with toy wooden muskets.
Assembled along Embarkation Drive with their muskets in hand, Beck led them through a series of drills before heading to a nearby patch of grass to “charge” the field.
“It’s totally exhilarating,” Beck said of being out there with the kids and drilling them for battle. “Every time I do it there’s a big smile on my face.”
So how did this year’s class of recruits measure up?
“They are the best group that we’ve had," said Beck. "And I can say without hesitation that they are prepared to help General Washington when the need arises.”
Later the young recruits and their parents got to see a real musket drill narrated by Marblehead re-enactor Frank Lyons, proprietor of the Continental Tavern in Yardley.
Lyons and the men led the musket firing drill on the banks of the Delaware River where Washington launched his bold and daring crossing of the Delaware River in 1776, a military maneuver that changed the course of the War for Independence.
Throughout the park, the sights and sounds of the American Revolution were everywhere from a blacksmithing demonstration to the sounds of the park’s Fife and Drum Corps, which played prior to the reading of the Declaration and then led young recruits into the field of “battle.”
“When the re-enactors are drilling it’s nice to have the music. It adds another dimension to the park experience,” said Stacy Roth-Niemiec of Fairless Hills, who helped organize the Corps in 2019.
Music was a big part of the military, adds Roth-Niemiec. “All the movements that the troops did were to various signals and beats and their whole day was regulated by the fife and drum calls.”
The day also included an encampment by the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment, an environmental education activity table, quill pen writing inside the Frye House, children’s book readings and a kitchen and garden tour of the Hibbs House.
The 4th of July celebration at the park capped off a weekend of Independence Day activities, which included a Rebels and Redcoats Classic Car Show and Colonial Field Day on Saturday.