‘Delaware Goes to War’ at Fort Miles open house on Saturday

Fort Miles Historical Area & Museum, located inside Cape Henlopen State Park near Lewes, will come alive on Saturday, April 28, with its “Delaware Goes to War” open house.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes a wide variety of activities, from a reenactment of the surrender of German prisoners on the fort grounds to live music from the World War II era.

A new activity added by the Fort Miles Historical Association this year is an opportunity for artists to recreate World War II scenes. For a fee of $25, artists will be able to sketch reenactors, equipment and vehicles representing the 261st Coast Artillery. Interested sketch artists can go to www.fortmilesha.org/sketching for more information and to register for the new art initiative.

The sketching event is a fundraiser for the Fort Miles Historical Association, which has renovated the fort through a dedicated group of volunteers, maintains it and is constantly bringing new items and programs to the historic site.

Shuttles will run from the Main Beach bathhouse to the Fort Miles parking lot from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Visitors will pay admittance to the park, plus a $5 fee per person to enter the museum.

Red wristbands will be given to visitors so that they may come and go as needed during the day, according to Sean Calloway, Interpretive Programs manager at Fort Miles. The wristbands are new this year. Calloway said they will make it easier for visitors to use the restrooms adjacent to the fort without being asked to pay again on re-entry into the fort.

Calloway said preparations for the open house began six months ago.

“There’s a lot going on. It’s going to be a good time,” he said.

Each year, organizers try to add something new to the day’s activities. In addition to the opportunity to sketch from re-enacted World War II scenes, there will be plenty of opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in the era and learn about the history of Fort Miles.

At 11 a.m., Kenneth Wiggins from the Delaware Military History Foundation will give a presentation in the fort regarding the Delaware State Guard’s role during World War II. At 1 p.m., there will be a presentation on the American Battle Monuments Commission by Tim Nosal. Nosal will be joined by Billie Meek, member of the board of directors of the American War Orphans Network.

Tickets are required for both presentations due to occupancy limits. The tickets will be available at the front desk of the Fort Miles Museum.

Visitors can also participate in the Postcard Connect program throughout the day. The program, presented by Trey Small, provides postcards that are subsequently sent to veterans, Calloway said.

“Words of encouragement go a long way” for those who have served, he said.

A group of 20 military vehicles will be on site for visitors to see. There will even be swing dancers on hand, with opportunities for visitors to learn some steps from popular World War II-era dances. Music from the World War II era will be provided during the day by the World War Tunes, in the Orientation building.

At noon and 2 p.m., demonstrations in the museum’s Plotting Room will show how the trajectory for firing on enemy vessels entering the Delaware Bay was plotted. Artillery demonstrations will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. A Wall of Honor ceremony will also be held at 3 p.m. in the Wall of Honor room.

A re-enactment of the surrender of the crew of a German submarine will be held at 1:30 p.m. Organizers said it is a popular event at the annual open houses.

Tours of the fort will be given throughout the day; the final tour will begin at 3:30 p.m.

Concessions, including the sale of hamburgers and hot dogs, will be available at the fort’s mess hall throughout the day, staffed by Boy Scout Troop 186 of Milford.

The USO and the American Legion will both have displays at the fort on Saturday.

By Kerin Magill
Staff Reporter