The Town of Ocean View will host its third annual Homecoming on May 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in John West Park.
The event, which was originally started in the early 1900s, lasted up until World War II and was recently resurrected by the Town, with the help of the Ocean View Historical Society.
“Ocean View was pretty much an isolated community,” explained OVHS member Richard Nippes of the town’s early days. “Basically, you made a living either off the water or farming. Many people really couldn’t make a living, so many would go to Philadelphia, New York and various other places to work.
“But they were very closely tied through family. Many left family behind in Ocean View. So they started a weekend every year in which people would come back to the town to renew old ties and get together and have a good time. They did that every year, and it became an annual event… The primary purpose was just to bring continuity to the community.”
The family-friendly event, which will be held rain or shine, is free and open to the public.
“We’re trying to gear this toward families,” said George Keen, chairperson of the Homecoming Committee. “We always have, and we’re trying to do it for free. Every event we have there is free, and we try to make it educational.”
Many crafters will be on site, and some will show attendees craftwork types from the early 20th century, ranging from decoy carving to quilting.
“We’ve doubled our crafts and our demonstrations. We’ve got twice, if not three times, as many demonstrators as we have in the past. We’ve brought in craft people that did things 100 years ago, such as chair-caning and the making of holly wreaths. A number of things that give people some idea of what in the world used to happen,” Keen said.
He added that most of the demonstrators were recommended to organizers through word of mouth.
“We find them by word of mouth, more than anything. We’ve got all kinds of crazy people, and it’s basically just word of mouth. Most of these people are coming for free and they’re not selling, they’re demonstrating, although there will be things there to buy. Some of the crafters will sell some of the crafts they make there on-site.”
Musical entertainment will also be offered throughout the event, as local groups and national acts perform.
“This year, we’ve got Sir Rod, which is a Rod Stewart impersonator. His name is Tommy Edwards, and he’s probably one of the best-known impersonators in the country. He’s been all over the place,” said Keen, adding that the Grand Master Organ will also be playing tunes.
“It’s a traveling carnival organ, for a lack of a better term. It’s in a big trailer and plays over 3,000 sings. There’s only one in the United States, and it’s going to be there all day long.
“We have Mariner’s CRASH youth group, who will put on a demonstration with garbage cans, which is kind of interesting,” he added. “It’s musical. It’s a band, and they use trashcans for their instruments.”
For the kids, Keen said, there will be free horse-and-buggy rides all day, and old-fashioned, period-realistic, games to play. Food will also be available for purchase from area restaurants, set up in a centralized food tent.
Shuttle buses will run throughout the day, so that attendees may park at neighboring churches and businesses and have a safe ride to the event.
“We’re using all of the local churches and some of the various local businesses for parking and we’ll run shuttles all day long so that nobody has to walk any great distance,” he said.
New this year, the Tunnell-West house on 31 Central Avenue – the Ocean View Historical Society’s main project for the last five years – will be open to the public for tours.
“The inside has been cleaned, and we’re going to display a number of the artifacts that we’ve already collected. That’ll be open all day long. There’ll be tours and people inside to explain about the house and all the stuff that’s in there.”
Keen said that, over the last two years, the event has continued to grow, and he hopes that visitors and residents in Ocean View and surrounding communities attend the event for some good old-fashioned fun.
“It’s just growing every year. I think the first year we estimated we had 750, and last year, even in the rain, we had way over 1,000, so we’re anticipating this to grow. We’ve gotten a lot of calls. The town itself is really excited about the whole thing. We’d like to see it continue to grow and I think it will,” he said. “Anybody that wants to come and bring their kids, and bring their family and have a great family day, we welcome them. It’s a good place to spend your Saturday afternoon.”
For more information, visit the town’s Web site at www.oceanviewde.com.