Rehoboth saving old Boardwalk tradition: Santa’s House

Commissioners agree to study feasibility of city taking ownership of Dolle’s sign
September 10, 2021

Story Location:
The Boardwalk
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

It may not be the iconic Boardwalk display everyone has been talking about for the past nine months, but Rehoboth Beach commissioners have decided to save a decades-old tradition – the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Santa House.

The house was not placed on the Boardwalk last year as a result of the city adopting a new policy prohibiting private holiday displays on public property during the holiday season, defined as Nov. 15 through Jan. 15 in any given year. The policy was created to address a since-resolved disagreement between the city, and Rehoboth Beach’s Knights of Columbus Star of the Sea Council and St. Edmond Catholic Church members on the placement of a nativity scene near the Bandstand.

Mayor Stan Mills said constituents asked him about bringing the house back this year, but under the policy, it wasn’t feasible as long as the chamber still owned it. He said he approached the chamber about buying the structure, with the idea that the chamber would still manage Santa’s visits during the holiday season.

Chamber Executive Director Carol Everhart said the house was 50 years old and had been built by some former board members.

Mills said ongoing costs to the city were undetermined, but he was told the structure expenses are roughly $5,000 annually, which covers maintenance, shrink-wrapping and storage when not being used, and hiring a towing company to install the house and then remove it from the Boardwalk.

Despite the cost, the city should just move forward on buying it, said Commissioner Edward Chrzanowski.

A price for the house wasn’t discussed, but Everhart said it would be low, and that the chamber was definitely interested in keeping the tradition going.

At the end of the discussion, commissioners agreed to have Mills move forward with purchasing the Santa’s House.

Feasibility study being done before any decision on Dolle’s sign

As for the much-discussed Dolle’s sign, there was a brief conversation on what to do about an offer from Dolle’s Candyland owner Tom Ibach for the city to take ownership of the sign.

Mills said he has received more comments on the future of the sign than all other topics combined since Ibach announced he was moving his shop a few storefronts to the east and the iconic sign would be coming down. He noted the blue Dolle’s sign that had been on the Rehoboth Avenue side of the building is now at the Rehoboth Beach Museum.

There were a number of suggested locations for the sign, all of which present problems – the top of the Rehoboth Beach Museum, at ground level in Grove Park as a selfie station, and, as a joke from Commissioner Richard Byrne, on Clear Space’s Rehoboth Avenue lots under the name Dolle’s Park.

The commissioners all agreed it was worth looking into trying to save the sign, but none verbally committed to making sure that happens. Ultimately, they agreed the best path forward would be to conduct a feasibility study on what it would take to move the sign, where the sign could be placed or stored, and what it would take to upkeep the sign in the future.

Last meeting for Commissioners Byrne, Coluzzi

The workshop also marked the last meeting as commissioners for Byrne and Commissioner Pat Coluzzi. Byrne was not re-elected and Coluzzi did not run for re-election.

Commissioners-elect Toni Sharp and Tim Bennett will be sworn in during the commissioners meeting Friday, Sept. 17.

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