It’s time for Rehoboth to remove memorial tree markers

Placed decades ago, foot traffic, tree roots, general unkemptness make for unnecessary hazards
October 28, 2022

Story Location:
Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

I’ve done a lot of walking around Rehoboth Beach in the past few weeks. In addition to my normal coverage of the city, there have been a few weekends where there were events pretty much all day. Since the city is basically a square mile, I find it easier to get a centrally located parking spot and not move my car until I’m done with those assignments. Sometimes – like this coming weekend for Sea Witch – that means walking from Grove Park east to the Boardwalk or from the Henlopen Hotel south past Funland.

As I’m walking around town, I almost always make an effort to have my head on a swivel to see if there’s something new going on. The head-on-a-swivel approach works, but has, on more than one occasion, led me to accidentally run into someone because I’m not always looking straight ahead. Nothing too hard – I haven’t knocked anyone over – but it does necessitate a sheepish apology to a person with a look-where-you're-going scowl on their face.

Anyway, one of the things that’s really stood out to me lately is the state of the memorial plaques at the base of many city trees. Mostly located in the commercial areas of Rehoboth, there are hundreds of these plaques, each with a name and pair of dates indicating the birth and death of the person named on the plaque. I’ve noticed the plaques before, but as I was navigating the crowded sidewalks recently, it dawned on me that I don’t really know why they’re there. What I do know is that many of them appear to have been totally neglected since installation and are now sitting askew in the dirt, with inches of block exposed at odd angles.

The installation of the plaques was before my time in the city, so I dug into the Cape Gazette archives to learn about their history. According to a story from late 2001, when the city was in the process of figuring out the streetscape for Rehoboth Avenue, the installation of the plaques had been an administrative decision and done as a way to help the city defray the costs of planting street trees.

Former Mayor Sam Cooper was quoted as describing the plaques as looking like gravestones and “ill-advised from the start.” Ultimately, though, the plaques were put back.

I understand the plaques are emotional memorials to many of the city’s founding families or to people who called Rehoboth Beach their second home. However, given the current look and general upkeep of the plaques, I think the time has come for them to be removed from the commercial district sidewalks of Rehoboth Beach. There is simply too much foot traffic on the city’s streets these days. The city has spent a lot of time over the past few springs grinding down the edges of sidewalks that have become a tripping hazard. Removing the plaques is the next natural step. 

It’s been a long time since the city has placed a new plaque, and with the creation of the city’s memorial tree program a couple of years ago, it doesn’t appear there’s going to be any more placed soon.

The city is exploring the possibility of redoing the streetscape on Wilmington and Baltimore avenues. If that project ever comes to fruition, the plaques on those two streets should be removed. As for Rehoboth Avenue, the plaques should be removed sooner rather than later.

In both cases, Rehoboth Avenue and for Baltimore and Wilmington avenues, the families who paid for the plaques should be thanked for their contribution in beautifying the city and then given the plaques. Additionally, the city should plant another tree in their honor in a less-populated area, then give that family the option of adding a leaf to the memorial tree in city hall.

Joke of the Week:

It was probably predictable that with Halloween just around the corner, I was going to choose a Halloween-themed joke. I’m happy to not disappoint and to be able to get folks in the mind-set for the next seasonal holiday. As always, send joke submissions to

Q: What does a turkey dress up as on Halloween?

A: A goblin.


  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

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