Lewes police officers abruptly ended the impromptu Fourth of July Doo-Dah Parade in downtown Lewes.
“There were people cheering for us, and they were happy,” said Jason Hoenen, whose grandmother Phyllis founded the annual parade with friend Carolyn Shockley in the 1960s. “We did nothing but bring joy to the town for 20 minutes and this is how it ends.”
After city officials told the Hoenen and Shockley families not to have a parade this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the families got together and organized an altered parade. Unlike past years where the parade slowly moves down the street with people marching, this year’s parade began with only four heavily decorated vehicles.
“We did it unannounced just so there wouldn’t be any crowds and a bunch of people gathering,” Jason said. “We weren’t throwing candy. We weren’t marching. We were just riding through town playing our music.”
The cars drove 25 mph, the speed limit, down Savannah Road to the beach parking lot before returning for a ride down Second Street. On Second Street, they were joined by more cars, two tractors, a few go-karts and an RV. Everyone stayed in their cars, except Diana Hoenen, who stood in the bed of a truck waving an American flag. The parade traveled to the Shockley home on Manila Avenue before heading down Kings Highway to Second Street for another loop.
A Lewes police officer joined the parade on its second pass down Second Street before pulling over Hoenen’s truck on Third Street in front of John Ellsworth’s blacksmith shop. Hoenen’s husband John, the driver, was cited for allowing Diana to ride in the bed of a truck.
A small crowd quickly gathered to check out the hubbub. Ellsworth walked around and collected money in a patriotic hat, and the fine was quickly covered.
Diana said this year’s impromptu parade was about keeping the tradition alive.
“Today was about not letting it die,” she said. “Even if we did it ourselves just so it’s not forgotten, overlooked or made to disappear.”
Jason said one of the two police officers on scene wanted to issue a warning, but the officer in charge opted for a ticket.
“He just wanted to be a jerk,” Jason said.
Mayor Ted Becker said: “The Doo-Dah Parade is very much a part of the Lewes Fourth of July festivities; however, out of concern for everyone’s safety, the city canceled all activities associated with the holiday this year. It is unfortunate that this rogue event occurred, as the city remains committed to take necessary actions for the health and safety of all residents and visitors.”