Every Lewes Christmas Parade is special, but this year's had extra meaning.
Tom King, the dedicated volunteer who was parade chairman for 35 years, passed away Nov. 25, just a week before the 85th annual event.
The committee had selected Tom and his lifelong friend and fellow parade organizer Dennis Forney, Cape Gazette publisher, as parade marshals of the Dec. 2 parade.
In Tom's place, his wife, Chris, and his brother, Ben, rode in the front of the parade with Forney.
As people and floats filed into the staging area, Lewes Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Betsy Reamer said it was tough to fight back the tears.
“It's hard not to think about Tom,” she said. “He would be running up to me constantly before the parade started.”
“Just days before Tom passed, he was calling to make sure some of the details of the parade had not been overlooked,” said Lewes Mayor Ted Becker as he announced from the judges' stand prior to the start of the parade that the parade was dedicated to Tom King.
Reamer said those involved with the parade gain a little solace knowing that Tom is still with them in spirit.
King, best known as owner of King’s Ice Cream in Lewes for 30 years, had been active in the chamber since the early 1980s.
Judges awards go to:
Most original entry: Schell Brothers/Kids Cottage
Classic car: 1. Jim Davis, 1965 Mustang; 2. Arnold Yoder, 1963 TR-3-A; 3. 1938 Chevy street rod, Jack Mitchell
Decorated vehicle: 1. Mark Droney, 1970 Maxim fire truck, Outlaw Fire Dept.; 2. Hazzard Auto Repair, 2015 Ford tow truck; 3. Deirdre Duddy, 1980 MGB Roadster
Band: 1. Cape Henlopen High School
Fire company: 1. Roxana Fire Co.; 2. Rehoboth Beach Fire Co.
Commercial float: 1. PSI Pharma; 2. Puppy Palace Doggie Day Care; 3. Home Theatre Solutions
Community float: 1. Sussex Bible Church; 2. DNREC Shore Line Management; 3. Best Buddies Delaware
Youth organization float: 1. Bethel Christian School; 2. Sea Scouts Ship 198; 3. Cape Henlopen FFA
Marching group: 1. Sussex Dance Academy; 2. Keenote Music Studio; 3. McAleer School of Irish Dance
Equestrian: 1. Windfall Acres; 2. Southern Delaware Therapeutic Riding
Honorable mention awards: Cape Henlopen High School Jr. ROTC color guard drill team; Girl Scout Troop 454; Cub Scout Pack 1; Lewes Girl Scouts; Girl Scout Troop 35; Camp Arrowhead; Boy Scout Troop 1; Coastal Dance Academy; Cape Henlopen LEO Club; Cape Vikings Football and cheerleaders; Beacon Middle School Jr. Honor Society/Jolly Trolley; and Henlopen Chapter of DeMolay.