Fourth of July brings small-town parades and big-town blasts


Bikes, bonfires, boats and Ben Franklin will usher in the annual celebration of that nation’s independence as patriotic revelers gather from near and far in American merriment. With events kicking off across the county on Sunday and Monday, there is much pie-eating, parade-going and firework-gazing fun to be had by all.

Bethany Beach

The annual Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade will kick off at noon, with a bang, as the First Delaware Regiment Fife & Drum Corps fire their Revolutionary War-style weapons in a salute to Independence Day to begin the two-mile march. Keeping this year’s presidential election in mind, the parade’s theme will be “Celebrate Your Right to Vote.”

Registration for float and bicycle entries will take place before the parade, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Floats should head to the intersection of Central Avenue and Route 1 to register, and bikes should check in on the Christian Church grounds.

Bethany Beach Public Works Director Brett Warner will be grand marshal for the parade, riding at the helm in recognition of his many years of service to the town.

Bruce Frye, chair of the Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade Committee said that, while Warner typically starts his July 4 at 4 a.m., to set up for the parade, he’s been training someone to fill in for him this year. Frye said, “I’m sure he’ll be working right up until 11:45 a.m., when he gets in his convertible.”

According to Frye, parade-goers can expect a few new exciting additions to the lineup this year, including the Downtowners Fancy Brigade from Philadelphia.

Continuing with the Revolutionary start to the parade, “Ben Franklin” will also be making his inaugural appearance, as Franklin impersonator Brian Patrick Mulligan joins the festivities this year. According to Frye, Mulligan, who now resides in Bethany Beach, will also be on the boardwalk after the parade, offering Franklin-style conversation to visitors.

The town’s annual horseshoe-throwing contest will begin at 2 p.m. at the southwest corner of the Christian Church grounds. The awards ceremony at will take place at the bandstand at 7:15 p.m. and will be followed by entertainment from the Army National Guard Band of the Northeast at 7:30 p.m.

As in years past, the fireworks show will begin at dusk on July 4 and will be set off from Wellington Street beach.

It’s not too late to get the official Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade T-shirt! Shirts are being sold on the boardwalk during bandstand concerts from 6 to 9 p.m. through July 3 and from 9 a.m. to noon at the Christian Church entrance on July 4. T-shirts cost $15 for adult sizes and $10 for child sizes, while supplies last.

Bear Trap Dunes

To ring in the Fourth of July a little early, on Saturday, July 2, at 9 a.m., the Village at Bear Trap Dunes’ annual Fourth of July parade will commence at the development’s pavilion.

“We’ve got the local Boy Scout troop coming out. The local Special Olympics team — they use our facility in the winter time for swimming. Their whole team will be out; they just came back from their competition and won a whole bunch of medals. So they’ll be participating with a float,” said Bethany Beck, the pavilion manager. “We’ll also have Contractors for a Cause and some of the local fire departments, and some antique cars from Ocean View.”

Beck said anyone and everyone is invited to line the streets and watch the community’s patriotic parade.

Prizes will be awarded to parade participants, including Most Patriotic, Best Vehicle and Best Decorated Bike.

“It’s been a good tradition to have with local businesses. We’ve gotten a lot of donations from businesses in the town of Bethany for prizes we award for people who dress up.”

Beck said that the parade is not a rain-or-shine event, and a rain date is not scheduled.

Following the parade, from noon to 3 p.m., the children of Bear Trap will be able to enjoy Kids’ Day events. New this year are animal visitors from Barn Hill Preserve, which offers educational animal programs throughout the area.

“They’ll have their baby kangaroo, which is very exciting,” said Beck. “They’ll be able to interact with the other animals as well.”

Kids can meet the animals for a $10 donation and even have their photo taken.

At 2:15 p.m., the third annual cardboard boat race will take place at the outdoor pool.

“It’s really focused more toward the kids, ages 10 to 14. The materials they can use are only cardboard and only duct tape. They have to engineer a way their boat won’t sink or get waterlogged halfway across the pool,” said Beck, adding that, even the oars used in the race are required to be made from only the two materials. “The objective is to get from one end of the pool to the other in the fastest amount of time.”

Along with a prize for the boat with the fastest time for crossing the pool, awards will also be given for Best Decorated Boat and Best Costume.

Bear Trap will hold its first-ever cornhole tournament on Sunday, July 3, at 2 p.m. Spectators are welcome; however, the tournament itself is full up on competitors.

South Bethany

South Bethany will celebrate Independence Day with the annual Boat Parade in the canals on Sunday, July 3, at 5 p.m. Nearly 20 vessels will cruise through town, from pontoons to a Boston Whaler. Sometimes kayakers like to join in, trailing behind the floats.

South Bethany is particularly proud of its canals, so this unique parade balances out the oceanside festivities in multiple towns.

“We feel like this is something that really gets the people on the west side of town involved,” said organizer Kathy Jankowski.

“It’s interesting to be in the parade, because the crowd on the sides, watching, has grown over the years,” Jankowski said, “You see a lot of people who are really happy and smiling and having a good time, and that’s what it’s all about.”

The parade lineup starts at 4:30 p.m. in Jefferson Creek. The boats sail through the town’s major canals: up and down Jefferson Creek Canal, Anchorage Canal, Bayshore Canal and York Canal.

The public is welcome to find a spot to watch the floating parade. Awards will be presented for Most Creative, Funniest, Most Patriotic and Best-in-Show.

In the parade’s third year, people are definitely devoted to creating the most interesting boat décor.

“Come out and watch, and have fun!” Jankowski said.

The Town will also display its regular float (on wheels) around 1:30 p.m., after it participates in the Bethany Beach parade. The float will be driven south on Ocean Drive, north on Route 1, down Evergreen Drive and then parked for the day beside Route 1 at the Anchorage Canal forebay.

Fenwick Island

The annual beach bonfire returns to the town of Fenwick Island on Sunday, July 3, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Dagsboro Street. The night includes music by D.J. Batman, games for kids, free glowsticks and, of course, a bright bonfire.

“There are some people I know who tailor their vacations around the bonfire,” said Tim Ferry, head of the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol. “It truly is a family event. They roast marshmallows around the bonfire. They dance. … Adults have their beach chairs out there. It really has become one of the [town’s] biggest events.”

Hundreds — perhaps close to a thousand — people attend each year, he noted. The tradition is at least a decade old, said Ferry, and proceeds from fundraising at the bonfire go to help Fenwick Island lifeguards compete in national lifeguard competitions (this year, in August, in Hermosa Beach, Calif.). Supporters can purchase T-shirts or participate in a 50/50 drawing and a silent auction of items donated by local businesses.

Families can bring anything to make the night fun and comfortable: chairs, blankets, jackets, flashlights, a picnic dinner, marshmallows for roasting, and money for snow cones or fundraiser items.

Ferry thanked the Town’s Beach Committee, residents, visitors and businesses for supporting the beach patrol.

“Again, it does help the beach patrol, as we’ve grown and expanded — just with the quality of guards and competitors, we’ve been able to excel at the local and the regional and national championships,” Ferry said. “The guards work really hard to hone their skills.”

Millsboro

The 10th Annual Children’s Parade & Program will take place on July 4, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mark’s Labyrinth, at the corner of State and Ellis streets in Millsboro. This year’s theme will be “Yankee Doodle,” and children younger than 12 are being encouraged to dress in their “Yankee Doodle” or “Dandy” best for the parade.

Adults are also being encouraged to dress in red, white and blue as they accompany young participants; and all humans are welcome to dress up their dogs in patriotic finery as well. After a short patriotic program to kickstart the event, participants will march in the parade to compete for a trophy for Best-in-Show, Best Stroller, Best Wagon, Best Bike and Best Dog.

In the case of inclement weather, all festivities will be moved indoors, to the Parish Hall at St. Mark’s.

For more information, contact Dotty LeCates at (302) 934-7750 or Gale White (302) 644-0777.

Dewey Beach

Dewey Beach will launch its annual fireworks display from a barge stationed in Rehoboth Bay. The fireworks display is set for Monday, July 4, and, according to Dewey Beach Events, will begin between 8 and 9 p.m.

Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth’s annual fireworks display is set to be launched from the Delaware Street beach, right in front of the Funland amusement park. Weather permitting, spectators will be able to see the show from up and down the beach and boardwalk. As they’ve done in years past, the town will hold their fireworks a day before July 4, kicking off the Independence Day festivities on Sunday night, around 9:15 p.m. For more information, visit www.downtownrb.com or call (302) 227-2772.

Lewes

Lewes will continue its longstanding tradition of holding an Independence Day festival of old-fashioned games for children. The games will begin at 9 a.m. Monday morning on Second Street, which will remain closed to traffic for the duration of the event.

The town’s celebration will continue with their annual boat parade, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. at Roosevelt Island and continue along the spectator-lined Lewes-Rehoboth canal. This year’s grand marshal is Dr. Nancy Targett, who is being recognized for her 33 years of service to the town of Lewes.

The patriotic vessel procession will conclude at Fisherman’s Wharf, where each entry will be judged based upon their use of red-, white-and-blue patriotic décor. Prizes include a figurine carved by local carver Bert Long, for the most creative decorations; first-, second- and third-place ribbons; and participation prizes for all entrants, from the Overfalls Foundation. An awards ceremony will be held for all boat entrants on the Lightship Overfalls deck at 3:30 p.m.

At 5 p.m., the annual Doo-Dah parade will kick off and follow its traditional route down Kings Highway, Savannah Road and Second Street.

Registration forms will be available at the Lewes Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center in the Fisher-Martin House in Zwaanendael Park, at Pilottown Marina on Pilottown Road and the Lewes Harbour Marina Bait & Tackle at the end of Anglers Road. For more information, call the Lewes Chamber of Commerce at (302) 645-8073.

Ocean City

Ocean City, Md., will once again host a pair of patriotic spectacles, both uptown and downtown, on July 4.

Downtown, on the beach at N. Division Street, visitors can enjoy a free concert by ’80s tribute act The Reagan Years at 8 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

Uptown, at Northside Park on 125th Street, visitors can enjoy a free concert by The Janitors at 8 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

For more information, call 1-800-626-2326 or (410) 250-0125.

Milton

The town will celebrate Independence Day with a “Bring Mayberry Back to Milton” day in Milton Park on Monday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Festivities will include a dunk tank, a pie-baking contest, train rides, relay and sack races, chess matches and more.

Irish Eyes Pub & Restaurant will sponsor a bike-decorating contest and bike parade at 11 a.m. Two new bikes will be awarded as prizes to the contest winners — the boy and girl with the best entries. To participate, all bike entries must register at the park gazebo no later than 10:45 a.m.

A red-, white- or blue-themed pie-baking contest, with categories for professionals, amateurs and children younger than 12, will also be held, and participants should bring their homemade pies to the hospitality tent between 9 and 10 a.m. Monday morning. The pies, which should be made from scratch, baked in a 9-inch pan and covered, will be judged during the festival, and prizes and certificates will be awarded to the winning bakers.

Walt Hetfield and D.J. Jerry B will be on hand to provide musical entertainment as Irish Eyes, the Holy Smokers of Goshen Church and the Milton Lions Club serve up a patriotic feast fit for a founding father.

Admission to Milton’s festivities is free. For more information, contact Maryellen Kiernan at mare@irisheyespub.com or call (302) 684-5005.

Staff Reporters Laura Walter, Maria Counts and Kerin Magill also contributed to this story.