Del. ferry officials surprise 43-millionth passenger

 (Shana O'Malley/for Newsworks)

(Shana O'Malley/for Newsworks)

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry hit a milestone in Delaware today, welcoming its 43-millionth passenger on board.

Delaware River and Bay Authority officials surprised Bill Kisby of Millsboro, and his wife Fran, with a mini ceremony and gift bag at the Lewes Terminal as they boarded the ferry to Cape May, N.J.

Kisby, who does consulting work in New Jersey, said he was not expecting the attention on his commute this morning. “Kind of amazed actually,” Kisby said, who takes takes the ferry often for work and appreciates the convenience.

“It’s enjoyable,” he said. “It certainly beats driving around, that’s for sure.”

Kisby received a Cape May-Lewes Ferry gift package which included memorabilia and six ferry tickets.

Also on hand to celebrate was Lewes resident Ruth Macintire, one of the passengers aboard the very first Cape May-Lewes Ferry crossing during its inaugural sail in 1964. The 83-year-old remembers the first ride and said it wasn’t quite smooth sailing.

“It was a very, very hot day and they shouldn’t event have done the trip,” said Macintire of the July 1, 1964 ride. “I remember there was no water on board and when we got to Cape May, there were buses to take us into Cape May, and where the ferry landed, the parking lot was dirty, dusty, it hadn’t been asphalted or anything.”

Despite its rough start, the ferry has had a successful five decades in business and Macintire said she’s boarded the ferry for many other occasions.

“I’ve been on parties that were on board the ferry,” she said. “The pilots have had parties and I’ve done those.”

The ferry will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary this summer.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.