For Steven and Jenn Geib of Connecticut, coming to Bethany Beach to celebrate the Fourth of July with their three children and extended family is something they look forward to all year long. They get to see the parade, fireworks and, most importantly, family. And this year is no different. They, along with many other families, base their summer vacations around the tradition of Independence Day.
“This will be our 11th year coming to Bethany for the Fourth!” said Jenn Geib. “Steve brought me down when we were dating, and we’ve been back every year ever since. The kids love the beach and get to spend time with the cousins. We have dinner at Mickey’s Crab Shack at least two times during the week — you wouldn’t believe how much crab all three boys can eat! And we get Dickey’s frozen custard pretty much every night.”
In addition to those traditions, they, as well as many visitors and residents alike, always look forward to going to the Bethany Beach parade with their family.
This year, the 24th annual parade will be Friday, July 4, and will feature the slogan “Pride, Tradition and Dedication,” to honor the town’s beach patrol. The grand marshal will be Joe Donnelly, captain of the Bethany Beach Patrol.
The parade will start at the Christian Church and will run about 90 minutes. Registration for participants begins at 9 a.m. and runs to 11:30 a.m. — with floats assembling on Central Avenue near Route 1 and bikes, walkers, etc., registering on the Christian Church grounds. There is no pre-registration.
Philip Rossi, parade chairman, said he has at least 100 volunteers working with him and about 20 different sub-committees to make sure the day runs smoothly. The volunteer group is supported by the Town of Bethany Beach but must raise all needed funding themselves — something they achieve with the sale of Fourth of July Parade T-shirts designed to match the parade’s theme each year. T-shirts will be available on the morning of the parade on the parade grounds, as they have been on the boardwalk each evening this summer. Rossi advises people to purchase them early, as popular sizes do sell out.
And popular is a key word when talking about the town’s annual Independence Day parade.
“We have a about 1,000 children on bikes, 50 to 75 floats, the bands, the marchers, the beauty queens, the VIPs — it’s the big event of the summer,” said Rossi.
After the parade, at 2 p.m., there will be a horseshoe tournament, and anyone is welcome to sign up and play at the Christian Church grounds — something Rossi said is a “big success.” Then, at 7:15 that evening, there will be an awards ceremony at the bandstand for the parade winners. At 7:30 p.m., the Philadelphia Brass Band will play. Fireworks are set to start at dusk on the beach.
The only thing that competes with the tradition of the Fourth of July in Bethany Beach is the tradition of being with family— something Geib knows all too well.
“Still one of my favorite times was when we went to Aunt Jeannie’s for dinner,” said Geib. “It was so relaxed and casual... We had some tomato and onion salad, other fruits and veggies, and a whole lot of great company! The cousins are great, but I must say our Aunt Jeannie is the best! She is such a genuine kind-hearted women... There is no other like her. I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t get to see her at least once a year!” she said.
At the end of the celebration, there’s no need to be sad, or to lament on how fast the week went, or how long it will be before seeing the extended family again, for the one thing about tradition is that is keeps on going. And the only thing bigger and better than this Fourth of July events in Bethany Beach will be next year’s 25th annual celebration — something for which Rossi and Geib, and many people just like them, are already planning.