Selbyville is one of the few local towns with an annual Halloween parade, a tradition begun during World War II. Yet the Selbyville celebration is as popular as ever today, according to co-sponsors at the Fenwick Island Lions Club.
“Typically, it attracts 4,000 people,” estimated Bruce Schoonover, club publicist and past president. “It’s huge, and every year it seems to get bigger.”
The 2011 parade will be Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. with a classic focus on children, costumes, music and fun.
During the parade, the Fenwick Island Lions will also celebrate “Sight Night” by collecting eyeglasses for the less fortunate.
“If people have some old glasses, bring ’em in, and we’ll put them to good use,” Schoonover said.
Eyeglasses will be accepted in any condition, but donating them in cases will help prevent scratching, he noted. People can donate their used eyeglasses, which Lions Club International will sterilize, package and send to Central America.
“In the United States, we’re rather spoiled,” Schoonover said. “If we have a need for glasses, we go out and get them. There are a lot of developing countries where, if it wasn’t for this program, the individuals wouldn’t have glasses.”
Since 1925, recycled eyeglasses donated through the Lions Club have helped thousands of people find jobs and lead independent lives, Schoonover said, recalling stories of grandmothers clearly seeing their grandchildren for the first time.
The Indian River High School Leo Club will collect the eyeglasses in the PNC bank parking lot during the parade.
At the Lions Club Selbyville Halloween Parade, children are invited to participate in the annual costume contest, which will award prizes for the most original costumes in multiple age groups. Children participating in the contest and parade should meet by 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Salem United Methodist Church, at 29 West Church Street.
In addition to the parade of costumed kids, spectators can see many local representatives march the parade route, including Miss Delaware, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, gymnastic groups, cheerleaders, skateboarders, antique cars, business floats and much more.
Five school bands are slated to perform, including the fully costumed Indian River High School marching band, which will open the parade. The Southern Delaware School of the Arts steel drum band and Sussex Technical High School band are among other entertainers scheduled to participate.
Additional parade participants are being encouraged to register early, but applications will be accepted until the night of the parade, at 6 p.m., at Selbyville Town Hall, located at 68 West Church Street.
“I’m surprised at how many people say, ‘I was in that parade when I was a kid,’” said Fran Pretty, chair of the parade committee and past president of the Fenwick Island Lions. “So I think that’s a testimony to how people look forward to it.”
Halloween entertainment won’t stop at the eyes and ears. Plenty of food will be available to treat the taste buds, as well.
The Lions Club will sell hamburgers and hotdogs, and the Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company will sell oyster sandwiches and clams. The Girl Scouts will sweeten the evening with a bake sale.
The Lions also hold a 50/50 raffle to help defray the parade’s costs. Pretty said winning raffle tickets for the past few years have brought their purchasers more than $2,000 dollars. The raffle joins the other events in the PNC bank parking lot.
The parade will begin at West Church Street, turning north onto Main Street.
Roads in downtown Selbyville will close around 5 p.m. Handicapped-accessible parking will be available at the town lot behind Georgia House on Main Street. Other cars may park at available on roads throughout Selbyville.
“It’s just a fun holiday, but to see this continue year after year … it’s a big deal in this area. It’s just a wholesome outlet for everybody,” Schoonover said.
For additional information, contact Selbyville Town Hall at (302) 436-8314, call Fran Pretty at (302) 436-1773, or visit www.TownofSelbyville.com.