Delaware City day: the 4th of July alternative

The 33rd Delaware City day gave new Mayor John Buchheit and newly appointed Town Manager Dick Cathcart a different view of the parade.

Cathcart usually marched, as a state representative, or serves as master of ceremonies for the Delaware City Day parade. Buchheit has spent the last 9 years on the organizing committee to make sure the parade got off the ground. He was elected mayor in April beating John Martin by 30 votes.

This year they watched from the reviewing stand as two of people now running the tiny New Castle County community on the Delaware River. The Delaware City Day parade is always the third Saturday in July. That day is selected so that it doesn’t have to compete with other cities and towns who put on 4th of July programs.

“Economically, it’s our busiest day of the year,” said Buchheit, who also operates Crabby Dick’s restaurant in town. He says business in town is up overall this year. He sights a growing awareness and better promotion of the town as reasons for the growth.

The day is always part street festival and part showcase of businesses. There were the fire companies from Delaware City, Elsmere and Odessa. However, there were also kids dressed as crabs promoting Wiso’s Crab House and dogs dressed in swimwear from Pampered Pets. Both are Delaware City businesses. Sprinkled in the line up were 8 year old Chloe Siminari and her hula hoop on one end of the spectrum with the Duffy Stringband of Wildwood at the other end.

Politicians were there as well. Congressman John Carney was there as well as New Castle County President Tom Kovack. State Representative Valerie Longhurst went up on the reviewing stand after being a part of the parade. She and Cathcart at one point seemed to be sharing notes during the parade. Once redistricting is finalized she’ll represent Delaware City. That’s a part of the area that Cathcart represented during his time in Dover.

Cathcart says he growing into his new job of two months. “I was all set to retire and work two days a week at Delaware State,” he said. He said Mayor Buccheit approached him and after he read the job description he said it was “a good fit”.

Cathcart’s job was to present award to various members of the community. One of those was the grand marshal of the parade, Willis Phelps. The Wilmington resident does re-enactments at Ft. Delaware, which is a boat ride from Delaware City. He said he tells the story of African Americans in the Civil War. For the parade he was dressed in the heavy wool Union uniform of James Elbert. He says he says with the 150 anniversary of the Civil War he’s been busier than ever. “It brings an awareness of the role of African-Americans in the Civil War.”   He is a founding member of the Friends of the African American Union Cemetery.   His group has discovered where Elbert and four other black soldiers have been buried and is working to preserve the area. “Polktown is an area just north of the canal at the Reedy Point Bridge,” he said. “We are trying to make sure those graves aren’t forgotten and make it part of green-way being developed in the area.”

Police estimate about 3,500 watched the parade. There was 2.5 times that number to see the fireworks at night. Every space where a car could be park had been taken by people well beyond the Delaware City limits. Even though there is always a traffic jam get out of town when the fireworks are done, people could hear the universal language of “oooo” “ahhhhh” while the 30 minute show was taking place.

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