Doo Dah Parade in Lewes always starts on time

Randy Fenimore and the patriotic Jeep, owned by Tom Miller, that he borrowed for the Doo Dah Parade. BY DENNIS FORNEY
July 7, 2011

"Zippity doo day, zippity aaa, my oh my what a wonderful day." - Song of the South

I think a doctor once told me that when it comes to the birth of children, the first child is usually late but the rest come on time. That relates to the infamous Fourth of July Doo Dah Parade in Lewes.  The parade never has an official starting time therefore it always starts on time.  This year was no exception.

One of the biggest Doo Dah Parades in the town's history headed out from its starting point on Manila Avenue - behind the Shockley family's annual Fourth of July barbecue - some time around 5 p.m.  I told company at my house it would probably start around 5:30 p.m. but could be closer to six.  That's according to many years of experience watching, photographing and participating.

When I pulled up to Savannah Road on Fourth Street at 5:30 p.m.and saw a Lewes Police car inching its way along with lights flashing, I knew it wasn't a slow-speed, O.J. Simpson-style chase. The parade had started a lot earlier than I expected.

Zippity Doo Dah.

In the bed of a bright-red pick-up truck with Sousa-music blaring sat Phyllis Hoenen, one of the parade's founders along with Carolyn Shockley. Phyllis served as Grand Marshal for this year's parade.  A little further back, in another pick-up, Miss Liberty - Cathy Moon - in her Statue of Liberty outfit, carried on a tradition she started decades ago with her torch of freedom held high.

A few streamered-bicycles and candy-tossing children later, along came the Shockley brothers with friends and smartly beaten snare drums showered with more Sousa music and bright smiles.  In the front seat of the pick-up pulling their wagon was another scion of the parade, Ed Shockley, with a full head of hair and filled with the spirit of the Fourth of July.

Randy Fenimore talked his U.S. Marine friend Tom Miller into letting him drive his ultra-patriotic 2004 Jeep in the parade.  "An 18-year-old boy painted it," said Fenimore.  In various different panels are Statue of Liberty images, the twin towers of New York City which get lit up at night with LED lights, as well as the presidential sculptures from Mount Rushmore. Zippity Doo Dah impressive.

The parade stopped traffic in Lewes - except for emergency vehicles which make their way to the hospital with the full respect of the participants - for close to an hour.  But no one complained.  For that slow hour, children and adults alike felt deeply the great pride of the United States and its independence and the freedoms so cherished by everyone.

God Bless America and the independent, always-on-time Doo Dah Parade.