MILLSBORO – There were no spectacular fireworks and it doesn’t rival large-scale celebrations, like in New York City that draws millions of spectators or Delaware beach events that attract crowds in the thousands.
However, in Millsboro, the Fourth of July Celebration and Children’s Parade is huge.
The 16th annual event Monday brought about 80 people — children, parents, patriotic citizens, and a couple of pets, virtually all sporting patriotic red, white and blue — to the grounds of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and its labyrinth for America’s 246th birthday celebration, patriotic songs and lessons in U.S. history.
“These boys and girls have come today to honor our country. And the boys and girls are the future,” said Millsboro resident Dottie Lecates, founder of the event first held in 2006 that coincided with the completion of the church’s community labyrinth.
“I certainly would never miss this. I look forward to this every year,” said Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway. “We come together here at this wonderful location to remember all those who have sacrificed their lives and who are also sacrificing today for our freedom and independence.”
Chief Calloway applauded the youth movement.
“The one thing I do like is this event also brings those ideas on our children, so this can continue from year to year,” Chief Calloway said. “I am reminded of a quote, ‘Patriotism is like charity. It begins at home.’ I really appreciate everybody and what they do here within this church and how we bring our children so we can remember what it took for this country to be what it is today.”
It was a family affair for the Gallahan crew, residents of West Virginia’s panhandle, who have a summer home in the Dagsboro area.
“We were looking for a parade and saw in the paper that they were having a small, hometown parade here in Millsboro,” said Valerie Gallahan. “We assumed it was probably going to be on the road, but when we found out it was this … I think it’s great that the church does this and brings the community together.”
For 9-year-old Peyton Gallahan, the stars and stripes symbolize “peace, with the flag.”
Twelve-year-old Ava Gallahan said the Fourth of July is all about “getting together with friends and family and celebrating America.”
As she has done in past July 4 events, Roberta Collins, the designated Patriotic Fun Facts chairwoman for the event, posed a series of questions about America’s and state of Delaware history.
“Actually, when I have asked the questions, I have been pretty surprised because the younger kids know a lot of them. So, they are teaching something or they are learning it somewhere,” said Ms. Collins.
Seated in shade sporting patriotic colors was 94-year-old Thelma Monroe, the first woman to serve as Millsboro town mayor.
Tim Hodges, whose mayoral reign ends tonight, paid tribute to Ms. Monroe, as well as all of the attendees and military personnel past and present in the audience.
“Mrs. Monroe was mayor when I came to town, and she treated me fantastic. It’s great to see you,” said Mayor Hodges.
“It’s so refreshing to come here today and to hear how everybody is here to celebrate our great nation – and do it at a church. To me, that’s fantastic,” Mayor Hodges said. “I just want to express my appreciation, but also my appreciation to all of you who served (in the military). Because without wonderful individuals serving this country, we wouldn’t be here today. We wouldn’t be able to have this wonderful celebration. ... God bless Millsboro, and God bless the United States of America.”
A free lunch of grilled hot dogs, chips, desserts and beverages was provided.