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November 8, 2002     Cape Gazette
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November 8, 2002

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History continued from frontpage up polling places in the 13 hun- dreds of the county. "That meant votes had to be gathered from polling places throughout the county and car- r'ed to Georgetown for tabula- tion, where they were turned over to the sheriff.., and the re- sults announced from the court- house at noon on Thursday." Those were the beginnings of Return Day " . . . since there were no county newspapers in those days there was no way of knowing who had won the elec- tion. "So, many of the farmers de- cided to take the day off, load their whole families into wagons and go to Georgetown on Thurs- day to get the results." Wilson's history continues: "It would seem that Return Day as we know it now proba- bly started with the election of 1830 or the presidential election of 1832. Certainly by the 1840s the custom was well-estab- lished. "Several thousand persons would pour into Georgetown that morning coming on foot, in wagons drawn by mules, horses or oxen, in carriages of all types, and on horseback. "While waiting for the results the crowd listened to band con- certs, wagered on cock fights and engaged in other pastimes. Soon merchants saw an opportu- nity for gain and stalls and booths selling all kinds of food, clothing and other articles were set up. "The results were read from the door of the courthouse at noon and were printed on a white sheet hoisted over the courthouse door. "The winning candidates were placed onto the shoulders of their adherents and paraded around The Green. A large pole was erected in The Green and the emblem of the winning party was run up it. Generally an ox roast was provided by the win- ners. "However, the spirit of good feeling and reconciliation which marks the Return Day of the present was not always there in the old days. The losers quite often did not take their defeat with good grace and in one fight in 1844 a Dagsboro man was killed." The Return Day tradition grew and grew throughout the 1800s and represented a major festival in Georgetown every other year. With the turn of the century, however, etew forces came on the scene. The automobile and telephone and radio brought people closer to the county seat and they no longer had to go to Return Day to find out who won. Interest in the old tradition began to fade. World War II was raging in 1942 and Return Day was canceled altogether. Following the war, however, a group of Republi- cans and Democrats got togeth- er and made plans to bring Re- turn Day back bigger and better than ever. While in previous years the celebration was domi- nated by whichever political party had been victorious in the elections, the goal of the biparti- san Return Day committee was to have a bipartisan celebration. Dan Cook photo A Burying of the Hatchet cer- Celebrating the spirit of Return Day, former U.S. Senator Bill Roth joins hands with U.S. emony was begin and continues Senator Tom Carper in a show of political sportsmanship in 2000. Reth shares duty this year today. The county chairpersons as Return Day grand marshal with former Delaware Governor Elbert N. Carvel. for the Republican and Democ- ratic parties join together on the ond half of this century - and has turn Day a legal half-day holi- in the morning to dusk. reviewing stand and signify are- even gained national promi- day for Sussex County.This Return Day, with its candi- unification of purpose, follow- nence on ABC-TV's "Good year, under the guidance of Re- dates and carriages, free ox roast ing often-bitter campaigns, by Morning America." turn Day veteran organizer Ros- sandwiches and speeches, rous- burying the hatchet. Delaware's General Assembly alie Walls, volunteers will staff ing music and festive parade, is Return Day has been a festive gave the event official recogni- Return Day activities which a great Sussex County tradition - tion in 1965 when it made Re- have been scheduled from 6:30 unique in all the world. celebration throughout the sec- Return Day committees are the heart and soul of event At the heart of every Return Day cele- Hank Engberg, Town of Georgetown Warrington, Pat Cheyney, Cindy PROGRAM DISTRIBUTION- Youth to bration are the committee members that Maintenance Personnel Humphrey, Susie Morris, Diane Pettyjohn, Eliminate Loss of Life make the event a success. Return Day COMMUNICATIONS - Jerry Jones, Francis Frey, Elaine Frey, Kay Barnett, PUBLICITY/RADIO & TV - Debbie committees include the following: Vanessa Pettyjohn, Sussex County EOC Mary Ann Chorman, Brenda Lankford Jones, Rosalie B. Walls ANNOUNCERS - Rosalie B. Walls, CONVERTIBLES - Harold N. Short, JUDGES - Eleanor Raye Warrington, RECEPTION - Isabelle P. Morris, Hil- Harold N. Short, Debbie Jones Dora B. Short, Karen Whitaker, William H. Ann Couch da Parker, Ann Couch, Cheryl Work- ANTIQUE, CLASSIC AND ROD VEHI- Lawson, Judy Lawson, Kris Lawson, Kirk MOBILE COMMAND - Debbie Jones, man/Onion Jack's, Delaware Technical & CLES - Harold N. Short, Dora B. Short, AI- Lawson, Amber Esham, Scott Welch Sussex County EOC staff and support Community College fred "AI" Larson, Steven M. Kremer, Made- CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP - Ros- MUSEUM RECEPTION - Nelson War- PUBLIC FACILITIES - Marie Rose line Pickens, Alvinza "Ar' Pickens, Karen alie B. Walls, Kevin H. Short, Josephine ren, Martha Warren, Charles Baker, Jane Mercy Whitaker, William Whitaker Kruger, Dan Milburn, St. Baker, Bill Lawson SIGNS - Sharon McDonald, William H. AUDIO - Mid South Audio, DJ Connec- CORRESPONDENCE - Rosalie B. OX ROAST - Daniel Milburn, St., Daniel Lawson "A Good Sign" tions Walls, Debbie Jones Milburn Jr., Dalton Milburn, Mark Cash- STAGE USHERS - Allan Kujala, Re- AWARDS - William H. Lawson, Judy DECORATIONS - Billy Bradley, Bob dan, Jason Powell, Alvin Holston, Michael becca Breasure, Kay Wood Bailey, Staci Lawson Fletcher, Allan Kujala, Rusty Warrington, Holston, Preston Nailor, Kenny Towers, Marvel BANDS- Col. Fenton Ray Eleanor Raye Warrington, David Moore, Mark Pettyjohn, Zack Pettyjohn, Harley STAGES - George (Lope) Headley, BLEACHERS - Margaret Bradley, Bill Craig Eaton, Rick Hudson, Harvey West, Wilson, Ronnie Mumford, Finley (Butch) Wes Jones, Andy Peterson, William H. Bradley, Carol Senerchia, Nancy Short Mike Betts Jones, Horace Hitchens, Mark Pettyjohn Lawson, Ralph Mitchelll, Allan Kujala BUSINESS AND RESIDENCE DECO- ENTERTAINMENT - Kevin H. Short - PARADE - C. Kevin Walls, JROTC, TRANSPORTATION - Rosalie B. RATED WINDOWS - Lisa Rohlfing, Tam- Wilmington Trust Stage, Rosalie Walls William Lecates, Col. Fenton Ray, Debbie Walls, Terry Johnson, Kenneth McDowell, my Cohee, Marie Rose Mercy FLAGS- American Legion Sussex Post Holson, Harold N. Short, William H. Law- Wes Jones, Marie Rose Mercy, Delaware CARRIAGES - William H. Lawson, #8, Boy Scout Troop #95, Alden Murray son, Jay Stevens, Cathy Pepper, Louis Technical & Community College Judy Lawson, Kirk Lawson, Kris Lawson, FIRE COMPANIES - Rodney Marvel, Day, Carl Day, Bob Herrington, Jr., Harvey VENDOR BOOTHS - Kevin Smith, Ros- Amber Esham, Terry Johnson, David Wil- Margaret Bradley, Shirley Hitchens, Joey Walls, Joey Walls, Kevin Ryan, James alie B. Walls, Debbie Jones, Debbie Hol- son, Scott Welch, Lois Evans, Peggy Pepper, Eleanor Raye Warrington Larsen, Cindy Murray, R.G. Williams son, Marie Wasylyk Parkinson, Jim Parkinson, Sue Atkins, FUNDRAISlNG - Allan Kujala, Joan D. PARADE JUDGES RECEPTION - WEDNESDAY NIGHT EVENTS- Kevin Trudy Kruger, Frances Baker, Janet Dor- Messick, Rosalie B. Walls, Ann Couch, Cathy Pepper, Denise Matz, Karl Hailer, H. Short, Ralph Mitchell man Staci Marvel, Peg Dougherty, Cathy Pep- Donald Smythe VIDEOS- Jerry Jones, Sussex Central CARRIAGE PREPARATION - George per, Lawrence Sammons, Joan Hitchens, PATRIOTIC BAKE-OFF - Debbie Hol- High School Communications Department (Lope) Headley, Ruth Headley, Matthew Susan Messick, Susan Kremer, Della son, TrudyKruger YOUTH ACTIVITIES STAGE Headley, Joe Kauffman, Jim Parkinson, Mellington PHOTOGRAPHY-Chuck Snyder Josephine Kruger, Becky Breasure, Jake Andy Peterson, Sue Anderson, Sara Mar- HOST & HOSTESSES - Hilda Parker, POLICE COORDINATION- Wes Jones Breasure, Cathy Gorman, Keely Gorman, vel Isabelle P. Morris, Mary Smialek, Mary PROGRAM - Sharon McDonald, Ros- Pare Prettyman, Stacey Prettyman, Nicole CLEAN UP - Peter Brown, Lillian Mills, Ann Ryan, Ann Counch, Eleanor Raye alie B. Walls, Rogers Graphics, Inc. Prettyman