Lewes Mayor Ted Becker has responded to a claim that the city has been trying to shut down the Fourth of July Doo-Dah Parade for several years.
“That is a totally erroneous statement,” Becker said during a special meeting July 7. “The city has supported the Doo-Dah Parade for many, many years, as long as I’ve been around, which is a long time.”
The city asked parade organizers to cancel the parade this year due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 2 p.m., July 4, however, an altered version of the parade went forward with four vehicles at the start and all participants riding in a vehicle. The parade picked up a few tractors and go-karts along the way before being stopped by Lewes police on Third Street. Driver John Hoenen was given a citation for allowing his wife Diana to stand in the bed of his truck, where she waved a large American flag as he drove.
In a letter to the editor, Hope Ellsworth, who joined the parade on a tractor with her husband John, celebrated the organizers’ willingness to move forward with the decades-old tradition. She also criticized the city’s handling of the situation.
“The truth is that Mayor Becker has been trying to stop the Fourth of July parade for years. We joyfully press on,” she said.
Becker took exception to the comment, saying he often rides in a police car that leads the parade.
“We do all that we can to support it,” he said. “No only that, but also the fire police from Lewes Fire Department help cordon off and make sure traffic moves safely through town.”
With this year’s Fourth of July fireworks tentatively rescheduled for Labor Day weekend, Becker said, he would welcome the Doo-Dah Parade the same weekend.
Impromptu boat parade
The Doo-Dah Parade wasn’t the only supposedly canceled Lewes tradition to move forward. About 1 p.m., July 4, a long line of decorated boats cruised up the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal for an impromptu boat parade from Rehoboth to Lewes. The Rotary Club typically sponsors the boat parade that begins at Roosevelt Inlet and cruises down to Fisherman’s Wharf before turning around. The event usually draws large crowds along the banks of the canal.
One thing most people complied with, Becker said, was a request to not set off fireworks. Rogue fireworks on the beach were a longtime Lewes tradition before the city began offering its own show in 2018.
“There were a few isolated incidents,” Becker said. “The police department did a great job of monitoring sites where we have a history of rogue fireworks in the past.”
Overall, Becker said, the weekend went well.
“It certainly wasn’t a normal holiday weekend, but it went as well as we could’ve expected,” he said. “Downtown seemed to be busy, although not nearly as busy as it has been in past years.”
Mask compliance strong
On July 2, Lewes Mayor and City Council voted to require face coverings when walking or riding bicycles in the downtown area. Despite the short notice, Becker said, compliance was strong.
“I think compliance has picked up,” he said. “Is it 100 percent? I don’t think so, but people are certainly more aware of it.”
Becker said the parking enforcement supervisor has requested the city consider expanding the face mask requirement to the beach parking lots. City council is expected to discuss the request at its Monday, July 13 meeting.
“I think people have done a good job of staying with the small groups they come to the beach with, generally speaking,” Becker said. “But wearing masks in the parking lot and when they go to the restroom is pretty much not happening.”
City Manager Ann Marie Townshend said the city has received a number of comments about the city’s face mask requirement. People’s feelings are both positive and negative, she said.