You are cordially invited to a three-day birthday party that's guaranteed to be a blast - quite literally.

Musket and cannon firings, military re-enactments and live music are among the family-friendly activities that will honor George Washington's birthday this Presidents Day Weekend, Feb. 17-19.

Actually, many U.S. presidents will be lauded during this trio of celebratory days, but much of the Hudson Valley's celebration focuses on Washington's local ties. During the last year of the Revolutionary War, Washington resided at The Hasbrouck House on what is now Washington's Headquarters State Historic site in Newburgh, his longest-used military headquarters. It's a particularly popular place on Presidents Day Weekend, said Elyse Goldberg, Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site manager.

"It's an opportunity for us to commemorate all of the wonderful things the General did while he was here in Newburgh," Goldberg said. "He made some of his most important contributions to shaping the American republic."

It was here, Goldberg said, that Washington rejected the idea of an American monarchy; ended the Newburgh Conspiracy, preventing potential military control of the government; created the Badge of Military Merit, forerunner of the Purple Heart; and circulated a letter to state governors outlining the key principals he felt necessary for the new republic.

"People are re-animated about having such a wonderful gem of a site in their neighborhood," said Goldberg, "It's a really feel-good reminder of history in Newburgh."

Depending on the weather, about 1,000 visitors are expected for the three-day celebration at the historic site, Goldberg said. "We encourage people to patronize the local businesses while they're here."

Here's a sampling of the weekend's local events:


George Washington's Birthday Celebration

12-4 p.m., Feb. 17-19

Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site

84 Liberty St., Newburgh

Admission is free; donations appreciated


Visitors will be greeted at the historic headquarters by re-enactor John Koopman portraying George Washington, while balladeer Thad McGregor offers musical entertainment in the dining room.

Join in singing "Happy Birthday" to the nation's first president, eat a piece of birthday cake and attend historical presentations that will take you back in time.

On the grounds, re-enactors will perform military drills, culminating with a review of the troops by Washington. Featured: 5th New York Regiment (Feb. 17); 4th Connecticut Regiment and Lamb's Artillery (Feb. 18); 5th Connecticut Regiment (Feb. 19).

Presentations include programs on: Mount Gulian during the Revolutionary War; enslavement in the Hudson Valley (Feb. 17); Washington's health while he resided in our area (Feb. 18); and insights shared by a re-enactor portraying Martha Washington, Sandy Spector (Feb. 19).

Make a craft to take home. Whirligigs, period-appropriate spinning toys, for visitors of all ages.


Washington's Birthday Celebration

10 a.m.-4 p.m., Feb. 17 and 19

New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site

374 Temple Hill Road,  New Windsor

Admission is free; donations appreciated


"It's a good chance for families to get out and learn about the history of the area and see some fun activities," said Michael McGurty, historic site manager for the New Windsor Cantonment and Knox's Headquarters. "Make sure you dress warmly, and come out for a Revolutionary good time."

See musket firings each day at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., and view military medicine demos and other army activities. Following the demonstrations, children can "enlist" in the Continental Army, drill with wooden muskets and get paid for their service in Continental paper notes.

Tours and small cannon firings

Feb. 18 - Tours on the hour starting at 10 a.m., last tour is 3 p.m.

Cannon firings at 11:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.

Knox's Headquarters State Historic Site

289 Old Forge Hill Rd, New Windsor

Admission is free; donations appreciated


Tour the 1754 Georgian-style house used as Maj. Gen. Henry Knox's military headquarters during the Revolutionary War, watch cannon firings, explore the site. Visitors are advised to dress warmly.

Talk & book signing

"This Day in Presidential History" with author Paul Brandus

2 p.m. Feb. 17

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Henry A. Wallace Center

4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park

No admission charge. Space is limited; register at

486-7745; 229-6225

Brandus is an award-winning independent member of the White House press corps and founder of West Wing Reports. Copies of his book will be available for sale after the talk.

Presidential Autographs

3-5 p.m., Feb. 17

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Library Research Room

4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park

Free. Registration not required.

486-7745, 229-6225;

Visitors can view original documents from the Roosevelt Library archives bearing the signatures of many U.S. presidents including Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. More than 30 signatures will be on display, many of which were collected by Franklin D. Roosevelt. These rare documents are displayed only once a year.