Return Day celebrates the end of election season


Return Day, a long-honored Sussex County tradition, celebrated its 200th anniversary this past week in Georgetown, Del.

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: W. Layton Johnson reading returns in Georgetown during the annual Return Day event. The celebration has been a time-honored traidition for 200 years in Sussex County.Coastal Point • Maria Counts
W. Layton Johnson reading returns in Georgetown during the annual Return Day event. The celebration has been a time-honored traidition for 200 years in Sussex County.

The event was originally stared in 1811 when voting districts were established to allow persons to vote closer to home, with those votes then taken to Georgetown to be tallied.

Those who wished to hear the results of the election could then travel to Georgetown to hear the voting results for the county read-aloud two days later, as well as enjoy in festivities galore.

Today, Return Day has continued that tradition with a parade, live entertainment, free ox sandwiches and the ceremonial burying of the hatchet.

“Two-hundred years we are celebrating here today,” said Master of Ceremonies and WBOC-TV anchor Steve Hammond. “[This is] an outstanding Delaware tradition. Today we celebrate our democracy, which makes America great.”

Earlier that morning, Vice-President Joe Biden attended a reception for candidates and honored guests at Delaware Technical and Community College. Biden did not, however, stay for the rest of the day’s festivities as security measures would be too great.

Other Return Day attendees included Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Lieutenant Gov. Matt Denn, former governor Ruth Ann Minner, U.S. Senator Tom Carper and Congressman John Carey, Attorney General Beau Biden and Delaware National Guard Gen. Francis Vavala.

Former Georgetown Mayor W. Layton Johnson, who has been serving as town crier for the past 20 years, welcomed an eager crowd and read the election results for Sussex County.

“Good evening to all you Sussex Countians and to all you people who wish you were Sussex Countians,” he said. “I have been here many years doing this. I always get a lot of pleasure looking at the happy people out here.”

Johnson read the results for the county, of those that did not match up with elected officials; Insurance Commissioner candidate Benjamin Mobley received 892 more votes than the re-elected Karen Weldin; Lieutenant Gov. candidate Cheryl Valenzuela received 1,885 votes more than the re-elected Matt Denn; and presidential candidate Mitt Romney received 12,145 more votes than President Barack Obama who was re-elected.

“President Obama is back in for four more years and he is still our president,” said Johnson.

A brief ceremony was held with Sussex County Chairman of the Republican Party Jerry Wood, Sussex County Chairman of the Democratic Party Ed O’Connor, Sussex County Chairman of the Independent Party Sandra Curcy and Sussex County Chairman of the Libertarian Party Ed Eisenhour, where the four buried the hatchet.

“Delaware, as it always does, leads by example. Showing America how to gather together, shake hands, and burry the hatchet and start focusing on the issues that really need to be focused on,” said Hammond. “I will declare Campaign 2012 officially over.”