NEWBURGH – Dozens gathered
in Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh Sunday to celebrate what
would have been the 286th birthday of the United States’ first president,
Washington (portrayed by John Koopman III) appeared during the festivities, where he spoke in front of the crowd before being serenaded with “Happy Birthday to You” and indulging in a special cake that was provided by Alexis Diner in Newburgh.
A tip of the hat from the first president
Part of the large crowd at Washington’s Headquarters
When asked about the current political climate, he declined to comment, much like some politicians of today. However, he expressed delight when it came to the special birthday celebration.
“It means a great deal [to be here],” he said. “I am the only male Washington of my line to see age 50, so I’m very grateful to be here.”
One attendee, Celeste Rudberg of the Hopewell Depot Restoration Corporation, was excited to meet the first president and eager to hear his thoughts on current events.
“I think [he is] probably the best president of the United States we’ve ever had,” Rudberg said. “It’s kind of gone downhill since then. He was beloved. Everyone wanted him to be president.”
Elyse Goldberg, the historic site manager for Washington’s Headquarters, would want to learn more about how Washington lived in comparison to how people live today. “The questions I would ask him would be more about what it was like to live as a person of that time,” Goldberg said. “It’s hard to judge him based on our criteria, so we need to judge him based on the time that he lived.”
Locals had more to enjoy during President’s Day weekend at the historic site, as his birthday celebration lasts throughout the three-day weekend. Military drills from the 4th Connecticut Regiment and Lamb’s Artillery & Morgan Rifle Corps took place on the site’s grounds. Experts gave talks on a variety of Washington-related topics, from his health to his attitude towards slavery.
Today, the original First Lady Martha Washington (portrayed by Sandy Spector) meets with locals and gives a talk on her legacy.
Throughout this three-day celebration of Washington’s birthday and legacy, guests could enjoy music provided by banjo player Thaddeus MacGregor, children learned to make their own whirligigs, or spinning toys, and anyone could buy books and souvenirs that were on sale in the museum lobby.