Ronald Rinaldi II, who also played the Revolutionary War general last year, instead marched across a bridge from Pennsylvania to New Jersey on Thursday during the 56th annual re-enactment of the military leader's daring Christmas crossing.
"We're not going to put anyone in a position to get hurt," said Hilary Krueger, director of Pennsylvania's Washington Crossing Historic Park.
Rinaldi riled his fellow 130 re-enactors and put on a show for the estimated 12,000 spectators.
"Fight, men! Fight for all that you are worth, for all you cherish and love," he said as Washington.
Rinaldi has taken part in the re-enactment of Washington's crossing of the Delaware for the past 32 years. This year his father, Ronald Sr., and his 11-year-old son, Ronald III, joined him on the march.
"I would have loved to have crossed," he said, "but it was still fun. It wouldn't be Christmas without going to the crossing."
Rinaldi, 46, of Branchburg, was chosen by a panel of three crossing experts to portray the general for two years.
On Wednesday, President-elect Barack Obama also asked the country to look to Washington's improbable crossing of the Delaware River on Dec. 25, 1776, as inspiration to get through current tough times.
The president-elect said in a holiday message that Washington and his army "faced impossible odds" as they fought against the British that Christmas, the day they surprised Hessian forces at Trenton and won victories that gave new momentum and hope to American independence.