The Rehoboth Beach Patrol turns 100 years old this year. To celebrate, the patrol started a new tradition – the ringing of a bell to signify the start of a new season.
Braving harsh easterly winds and rain, beach patrol members, city staff and a few members of the public gathered for a brief opening-of-the-season-ceremony May 29.
Mayor Stan Mills had the honor of being the first person to ring the bell. Prior to doing so, he reminded the lifeguards of the important role they hold for the city. Not only are they charged with potentially saving lives, they are oftentimes the only representative of the city an individual comes in contact with during a visit, he said.
In an email after the ceremony, Beach Patrol Capt. Jeff Giles said he thought of the idea to ring the bell and then got permission from senior city staff. Giles is in his first season as captain, but he was a member of the Rehoboth Beach Patrol in the early 1980s and spent a career with the Delaware State Police scuba unit.
Giles said a frame with wheels is being built for the bell, which is made of brass and weighs 15 pounds. The bell will be brought out from the shack to be rung every day, he said, adding that he’s not aware of other beach patrols that do this.
Giles said alumni, dignitaries and supporters will ring the bell on weekends and holidays, and sign a logbook that will be preserved. On other work days, active guards and the public will ring the bell, he said.
Giles said the patrol’s alumni association has some more events planned for the special year. However, he said, the main event will not be celebrated until next summer when the city’s convention center is open.
The Rehoboth Beach Patrol, 1 Baltimore Ave. and the Boardwalk, is on duty from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday; and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., weekends and holidays. For more information, call 302-227-2280, email email@example.com or go to rehobothbeachpatrol.com.