Fenwick lions preparing for 'Sight Night'

Later this month, the town of Selbyville will once again return a longtime tradition. On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the town’s Halloween parade will take to the streets, welcoming visitors and locals to one of the area’s most popular fall events. The Fenwick Island Lions Club, which took over parade organizing duties from the former Selbyville Lions Club earlier this year, is gearing up for the evening, and adding a “Sight Night” theme.

Coastal Point • File photo: The Selbyville Halloween Parade has always been a hit, and the Fenwick Island Lions Club is hoping to use the event’s popularity to collect used eyeglasses and continue their efforts to help fight blindness.Coastal Point • File photo
The Selbyville Halloween Parade has always been a hit, and the Fenwick Island Lions Club is hoping to use the event’s popularity to collect used eyeglasses and continue their efforts to help fight blindness.

“The parade has always been a big success in Selbyville,” said Bruce Schoonover, president of the Fenwick Island Lions Club, “and now that we’re involved with the town, we want to keep it going. Last year, the Halloween Parade attracted over 4,000 people, three bands and several hundred kids in costumes. Politicians come out, too. It’s really a fun evening for everybody, and we don’t want to take away from that.”

Lions Clubs around the world have prided themselves in their work for sight and vision, providing glasses for those in need, administering vision screening tests and raising funds for vision research, and this year’s “Sight Night” exemplifies those efforts.

At the parade, members of the Indian River High School Leo Club, a Lions Club-sponsored service organization, will be collecting used eyeglasses. This collection will be sent to a central distribution point at Sussex County Correctional Institution, where a machine will read the prescriptions. From there, the glasses will be distributed to those in need of eyeglasses in developing countries.

“The Lions go down on these sight missions,” explained Schoonover, “and they provide the glasses for free. It’s a marvelous program.”

Those who come out to enjoy the parade are being encouraged to bring any used eyeglasses for donation. By providing the less fortunate with appropriate glasses, Schoonover said, it ensures that children will be able to read and keep up with their classmates. Adults are able to further educate themselves, find jobs and keep themselves safe.

“Children and adults are living in these remote villages without access to eye care,” Schoonover added. “Aside from that, they have no money.”

Each year, Lions collect approximately 30 million used eyeglasses worldwide. Still, more than 150 million people suffer from poor eyesight and do not have access to appropriate eye care.

Prior to the Fenwick Island Lions’ acquisition of the former Selbyville club’s area, the Selbyville Lions played an integral role in the organization of the parade, which has been a mainstay of the fall season for decades.

“As far as I know,” Schoonover said, “the Selbyville Lion’s Club has been involved since 1945. Older members in the community claim the parade goes back to the 1930’s. One gentleman remembers selling war bonds in the ’40s at the parade.”

The Fenwick Island Lions Club was approached to help two years ago, as membership in the Selbyville club was slipping.

“People were getting older,” he added, “and there was not the commitment there. It all fell on two or three people, and they asked us for our help. The parade has been such a wonderful town tradition, we wanted to step in. It’s a sad day to lose a Lions Club and their traditions, so we wanted to make sure something that’s been around like the parade keeps going on.”

Schoonover said the many children who are preparing to walk in the parade in Selbyville on Oct. 28 are encouraged to consider the “Sight Night” theme. Once again, there will be a children’s costume contest. All the participating children are to meet in the parking lot of the Salem Methodist Church by 6 p.m. Children will be divided into the following age groups: Ages 1-4, Kindergarten and First Grade, Grades 2 and 3, Grades 4 through 6, and Grades 7 and up. First-, second- and third-place ribbons will be awarded for the best, most original costumes in each age group.

The parade has always hosted local high school bands. Those bands willing to participate in the parade are asked to register at the Town Hall by 6 p.m. The Indian River High School band will lead the parade in costume, as they have in years past.

While floats will be entered into the parade, the Selbyville Police Department has banned all motorized four-wheelers, ATVs and motorcycles, for safety reasons.

The parade will step off at 7 p.m. and run down Main and Church streets in downtown Selbyville, which will be blocked off along the parade route.

The Fenwick Island Lions Club will also be selling hamburgers, hot dogs and hot and cold drinks near the reviewing stand in the parking lot of the PNC Bank. Other groups are invited to sell items, but new laws require all vendors to complete a vendor registration form. Anyone interested should contact Lion Fran Pretty at (302) 436-1773.

The Lions will also again be offering a 50/50 raffle, with half of the proceeds from the ticket sales going to the winner. Last year’s winner took home $1,715, and this year’s winnings are estimated to top $2,000. The drawing will take place at the conclusion of the parade.

For more information, visit the town’s Web site at www.townofselbyville.com or call Debbie McCabe at Selbyville Town Hall at (302) 436-8314.