Homecoming offers history and fun to Ocean View and beyond

This weekend, the Town of Ocean View will hold its 5th Annual Homecoming event.

“Homecoming began somewhere in the early 1900s,” explained Richard Nippes, president of the Ocean View Historical Society. “It was primarily created because so many people had to leave Ocean View to find work elsewhere, because there wasn’t much work in town at that stage. The chicken industry hadn’t developed yet. So people would go to Philadelphia and other places to work.

“Someone decided it would be good if they had a day on which they invited everyone to come back home, renew old friendships and family relationships,” he continued. “It became an annual event, and it became very, very big.”

Nippes said that, following World War II, Homecoming was suspended.

“When World War II broke out, they began rationing gasoline and other things, so it died.”

However, Nippes helped resurrect the event during his time on the Ocean View Town Council.

“Every town needs some kind of an identity. This is why we’re trying to preserve the history, so people can understand how the town evolved,” he explained. “Since this was one of the cultural events that people back in that day and age thought was essential for camaraderie and keeping the town together,” he said.

“I thought, ‘Gee-whiz — we ought to have some kind of identity. Almost every other town around us has an event that tries to bring the people of the town and surrounding towns together. Let’s try to see if we can resurrect Homecoming.’ I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it at this stage in the game.”

Now in its fifth year, the event draws hundreds of people from surrounding communities who are interested in enjoying a family-friendly day of fun.

“I think each year it is getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “Now it has become a very popular event. I think this year may be the biggest year yet. It has changed its character.”

The event will be on Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine. The event, which will be held in John West Park, will include some traditions from the past and many new activities for people young and old.

The VFW Post 7234 Honor Guard will open the event with a flag-raising ceremony while the Lord Baltimore Elementary School band and choral group sing the national anthem. Entertainment will be provided by the Concert Band Organ and the 33 1/3 Band, featuring classics from the vinyl era.

Activities for the kids include a giant rock wall, shark slide, a sea jump-n-play, face painting and carriage rides.

“This year, there’s going to be a lot of different kids’ activities. They’ll have a rock wall and big inflatables for the kids to jump around in,” said Nippes.

Visitors can enjoy the festive atmosphere, featuring live music, food and other refreshments. Local crafters and businesses will be on hand to help out those looking for last-minute gifts for Mother’s Day.

Parking will be provided at Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church, Ocean View Church of Christ and Ocean View Presbyterian Church, with a shuttle service provided by the Black Pearl and Bloody Mary.

This year’s Homecoming was sponsored by Fulton Bank; Sussex County Council; WSFS Bank; and Morris, James, Wilson, Halbrook & Bayard LLP.

The historical society will also have all of its historic buildings open to the public for free tours and will be selling chances for attendees to win a scooter.

“It’s a big thing for us to be able to show off what we’ve done. We’ll have some new artifacts there that people can take a look at. Some are different from what we’ve had in the past.

“Obviously, when you work as hard as we have in preserving this, it’s good when people get to see it and hear the stories. This is why we do the lecture series, so people can learn about Ocean View and surrounding communities. That’s why we do it. We hope people will take the time and come over and take a tour.”

Attendees may also enjoy a tour of the historic buildings restored by the historical society and watch live demonstrations provided by 18th century-style crafters.

“We will have some people there that will be demonstrating old skills, like woodworking and things of that nature,” said Nippes. “We have a new artifact that has been given to us, and we hope to have it there. It’s an outhouse. Most people have heard of one but never seen one. This is an old outhouse that was used in Ocean View that has a lot of history… It’ll be there for people to peek at.”

Nippes said he hopes for beautiful weather and a big turnout that day.

“We’re hoping this year Mother Nature smiles on us,” he said. “Come out and see what we’ve done and enjoy the good food, entertainment and everything else. It’s a year’s worth of work planning all of this. It’s a chance for people to show their appreciation.”

John West Park is located at 32 West Avenue, in Ocean View. For more information, visit www.oceanviewde.com. For more information on the Ocean View Historical Society, visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org. The Ocean View Historical Society complex is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View.