Get the ox roast sandwiches ready. It's almost time for Election Day, and in Delaware that means it's also time to head to Georgetown for Return Day.
As the election season winds down, we can finally begin to put to rest some of the questions we’ve been asking in recent months. The debates on which party will gain control, if the Tea Party has any major influence and which political candidate can sling the most mud will be put to rest.
And to mark the close of this season the usual celebration will be taking place in Delaware as Sussex County Return Day is set for Wednesday, Nov. 3, and Thursday, Nov. 4.
Rosalie B. Walls, president of the Return Day board of directors, highlighted some of the more interesting aspects of the celebrations for those interested in attending.
1 Arrive early
Vice President Joe Biden has never missed a Return Day celebration, and the board is planning for his arrival yet again this year. That means heightened security measures, which could make for longer-than-usual waits to get onto the parade route. “Things changed quite a bit in 2008,” Walls said. “Things moved slower with the extra security, and it caused the parade to start late. But it was exciting because never before has Delaware had a vice president.”
2 The parade
The highlight of Return Day is the parade, which brings together the winning and losing candidate from each race in a horse-drawn carriage for a ride from Sussex Central Middle School to The Circle, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Other state officials, marching bands and various groups take part in the parade as well.
3 Celebrations start early
A street festival the night before the parade actually kicks off the event, with musical acts and vendors featured from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3. Food vendors, Walls said, include barbecue chicken, pulled pork and oyster sandwiches. There also will be arts and crafts booths, and the musical acts will make the atmosphere what Walls called a kind of “street dance.”
4 Traditional food
Since the first Return Day, which dates back to as early as 1791, attendees were always served ox roast sandwiches, a tradition that has lasted to today. “It’s really just beef,” Walls said, “but we’re also going to have some bison this year.” The roasting begins the night before the parade and the sandwiches are distributed for free to the public.
5 Burying the hatchet
Election season can get pretty mean-spirited between candidates, so to put all of those bad feelings to rest, Walls said, a hatchet is actually buried. “They say that gets rid of all the bad things they’ve said during the campaign process,” she said. The hatchet is buried in sand brought in from Lewes, as that was the original home of the county seat before it relocated to Georgetown.
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