Like seemingly everything else in 2020, COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of Rehoboth Beach’s annual tree lighting and sing-along. However, the city will still have a lit tree in the middle of the Bandstand pavilion area.
Donating this year’s tree are Jerry and Paula Owens, who live off Savannah Road outside Lewes. Estimating the tree to be 40 feet tall and 24 feet across, Jerry said the blue spruce has always been beautiful. The family decorated it for years, until it got too big, he said.
Similar to the tree donated last year by Rehoboth’s Traci and Ed Humphries, the Owens’ tree began its life as a balled and burlapped Christmas tree. Jerry said the couple bought the lot their house is on in 1984, moving from Milton to their new home in 1986. The tree was planted as part of the move. Over the years, said Jerry, the tree has gained a reputation as the neighborhood’s Christmas tree.
“It’s really lived a good life,” said Jerry, adding that he had mixed emotions about removing the tree. “It’s such a beautiful tree. It’s definitely going to be different.”
Jerry said they’ll probably end up planting another tree.
“But smaller, so I can decorate it,” said Paula, who gave a thumbs-up about cutting the tree down.
Jerry said they understand the disappointment around the cancellation of the event, but he said, personally, he and his wife will be OK with not being on the Bandstand stage in front of potentially thousands of people.
“All the rest of it. We don’t care at all,” said Jerry on being the center of attention, with Paula laughing and shaking her head in agreement. “We’ll definitely drive down there and see what it looks like. I’m just glad people will be able to enjoy it.”
The sing-along and tree lighting event is traditionally held on Black Friday, which is Nov. 27 this year. The city is encouraging people to shop and eat downtown. Throughout the weekend, there will be holiday music playing in businesses and at the Bandstand.