TRENTON — For the past quarter-century, the Trenton Downtown Association has used the week between Christmas and New Year's to highlight some crucial dates on New Jersey's historical calendar, right in the places where the original events happened.

Running from Dec. 26 through 31, Patriots Week encompasses more than 50 events in New Jersey's capital city meant to evoke the spirit of 1776, from pub crawls to bus tours to reenactments.

Among those reenactments, according to TDA Executive Director Tom Gilmour, are a pair of pivotal battles that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War in the colonists' favor. Gilmour calls both Battles of Trenton "certainly the highlight of the week."

These were the battles that were set in motion, as is well known, by General George Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Day and surprising the Hessian militia. They will be staged Saturday, Dec. 28, first at 11 a.m. at the Old Barracks Museum, and then at 3 p.m. at Mill Hill Park.

In between, there will be lectures for the adults and an interactive puppet show for children to help explain more of the revolutionaries' story. It all depends on what you are most keen on learning.

"You can come for one event, you can come for 10 events, you can come for every day and still be very well-entertained," Gilmour said.

While weather conditions look good for Saturday, Gilmour said in years when the weather is less than ideal, the reenactments go on anyway — and it's then that the audience gets a true sense of what the Americans went through.

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To help potential attendees figure out which events they want to prioritize, TDA has launched, created with a grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust. Gilmour expects the new website, which is fully mobile-compliant, to be a "great tool" this year, but also a vehicle to bring in more people to future Patriots Weeks.

Along with information about the actual series of events, the site contains lists of nearby hotels and restaurants so that visitors can take full advantage of the Trenton area.

Gilmour said even as Patriots Week continues annually, preparations are already underway for a banner year coming up in the next decade.

"We're really excited," he said. "In 2026, I think, is the next real federal celebration of the Revolutionary War, and obviously New Jersey played a really prominent position during that war."

The last large-scale national commemoration of American independence was the bicentennial, in 1976.

If you have an idea for a future installment of "Discovering New Jersey," contact Patrick Lavery, Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming, on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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