More than 85,000 people attended this year’s Sea Witch Parade, a record crowd that spent an estimated $20 million to $30 million in the Rehoboth Beach area.
“It was like the Fourth of July,” Rehoboth police Chief Keith Banks said.
"I wish every weekend was like that," Susan Crane, co-owner of Browseabout Books said.
Carol Everhart, president and CEO of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce said aerial photos show as many as 85,000-plus came to the parade. The chamber estimates additional 130,000 people came to town over the weekend.
She said this year's festival was a record-breaker, surpassing even July 4 visitation records. More than 3,000 rooms were sold during the weekend, far surpassing 2012 totals. Everhart attributed the attendance to the crisp, sunny fall weather, the varied activities the weekend had to offer and pent up demand after Hurricane Sandy’s imminent landfall kept many visitors away last year.
Everhart said because so many people arrived, parking became an issue; one she said organizers are vowing to fix for next year. Cars that parked Scarborough Avenue were ticketed by police for parking in the grass median.
Rehoboth police Chief Keith Banks said two officers stationed in the area of Scarborough Avenue told motorists they could not park along the median. He said the motorists parked there anyway, and were subsequently ticketed because cars were parked the wrong way and blocked the street, prompting residents to complain.
“We don’t like giving out tickets,” Banks said. “But the cars got to be a safety hazard.”
There was also an accident in the area, Banks said, when a motorist destroyed a barricade and then could not back up because cars had parked on the median. The ticket costs were $25 to $50 Banks said.
Still, Everhart said the problems were a result of the large number of people who came.
“That’s a good problem to have,” she said.
The chamber anticipated a large influx of visitors for the festival, Everhart said, but, did not anticipate the parking problems. She attributed the parking situation to everyone coming and going from the parade at the same time. The chamber has identified parking and better use of mass transit as the biggest issues to be addressed for next year.
Jonathan Davis, front desk associate for Hotel Rehoboth, said the hotel averaged about 87 percent capacity for the three-day weekend, about what was expected. He said the hotel typically does not sell out during Sea Witch weekend, but does get close to full.
The Atlantic Sands was 96 percent full, general manager Mike Ludden said, with half coming from Sea Witch attendees and the other coming from an executive conference the hotel was hosting.
Last year, as Sandy made landfall, the Sands became home base for the national television crews that decamped to Rehoboth to cover the storm. Ludden quipped, "That's the kind of publicity we don't want."
"This was good this year," he said.
Crane said sales were up, bolstered in part by Halloween-themed book signing the store held.
"We had a great weekend. It was like Fourth of July Part Two around here. it was crazy," she said.
All in all, 400 volunteers, vendors and sponsors welcomed 600 walkers and 50 floats in the parade.
“We cannot express how thankful we are to everyone who helped make this happen,” Everhart said.
Sea Witch Contest Winners
Winnie the Pooh
Horse Pulling Wagon
Wizard of Oz
Grace, Lilly, Daisy and Dudley Baeurle
Creepy Critter Coaster
Crab in Crabpot
We Lil’ Sea Witches
Tina & Rick
Claire, Maggie & Guan
Alice in Wonderland
Andy & Tony Pellegrini
Peter Pan/Tinker Bell
Snow White & Evil Queen
Jodi Foster, Jade Kells, Nancy Bruno
Bayard & Tina Williams
Shannon & Kelsie Williams
Mad Science Lab
Chris Beagle/Eric Engelhart
Pretty In Pink Princess Abbey
Fiddler's Festival Winners
1st – Run of the Mill String Band
2nd – 3 Amigos
3rd – Psyco Exploding Orangutans
1st – Sarah Larson
2nd – Palmer Loux
3rd – Summer Daye Lilley
1st – Mike Hesson
2nd – Ray Hesson
3rd – Patrick McCauley
1st – Lexi Harrison
2nd – Sarah Larsen
1st – Nicolette Sullivan
2nd – Lexi Harrison
3rd – Craig Pomplas
1st – Bobby Steiner
2nd – Ray Hesson
3rd – Lexi Harrison
Costume Parade Winners
Ava & Grayden Ripanti
Liz DiTomasso & Family
Wizard of Oz
Hojnicki & Thomson Families
Lady w/out a Head
Madison & Caleb Galbreath
Elf on a Shelf
The Holmes Family
Justin Fisher & Brendan Moriak
The Blue Man Group
Poljak, Alvarez & Turnquist Families
Little Red Riding Hood