Sussex County Delaware

Return Day 2000
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Return Day 2000...

Burying the Hatchet at Return Day

Photo: Joking around while burying the hatchet are, from left, Master of Ceremonies Joseph W. Booth, Sr., Sussex County Republican Party Chairman Bruce Rogers, Sussex County Libertarian Party Jack Dalton, and Sussex County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Willard.

Hatchet Buried for
Campaign 2000

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GEORGETOWN -- Return Day 2000 didn't bring the announcement of a winner in the U.S. Presidential race, but it once again brought together the state's political adversaries to bury the hatchet with a day-long festival on The Circle in Georgetown.

Bill Roth and Thomas R. CarperWith the country still awaiting word on whether George W. Bush or Al Gore would be our next president, Sussex Countians celebrated the end of the election just as they have for the past 200 years.

A reception featuring all of the candidates in this year's general election in the state of Delaware, plus many other local dignitaries, was held at Delaware Technical & Community College.

After that came the highlight traditional parade featuring more than 170 entries from around the state.

As always, candidates who faced each other during the election rode in carriages or vehicles to symbolize the end of any hard feelings from the campaign.

The highlight of the candidates' parade was when Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper and Senator Bill Roth stood hand-in-hand as their carriage entered the circle. The two political giants in the First State waged a sometimes bitter campaign that resulted in Carper defeating Roth for the U.S. Senate seat that Roth has held for five terms.

The parade included high school bands from Cape Henlopen, Delmar, Indian River, Milford, Seaford, Sussex Central and Woodbridge, junior high bands from Milford and Sussex Central, and the always popular Delaware State University marching band.

Fire trucks, floats, beauty queens including Miss Delaware 2000, Junie Cross, youth sports teams, marching units, were also part of the parade. U.S. Senator Joe Biden was the parade's grand marshal and retired Judge William Swain Lee, Bernice Edwards, David Hill and John Williams were honorary grand marshals.

Freedom SingersMaster of Ceremonies Joseph W. Booth Sr. kept the crowd in stitches after the parade. Booth introduced all of the Sussex County candidates in the general election and other dignitaries.

After town crier W. Layton Johnson announced the Sussex County votes in the general election races, Booth directed the ceremonial burying of the hatchet along with Sussex County Democratic Committee Chairman Timothy Willard, Sussex County Libertarian Party Chairman Jack Dalton, and Sussex County Republican Party Chairman Bruce Rogers.

The Return Day tradition, unique to Sussex County, dates to 1791 and brought Sussex Countians to county seat every two years to hear election results before modern technology took over the announcements of those results.

Sussex Countians liked the festival, though, and have kept it alive through the years despite a decline in interest with the advent of the automobile and the radio.

The event has since gathered steam, however, and this year's Return Day was expected to draw 30,000 onlookers.

The event has been designated a Local Legacies Project by the Library of Congress.

Photos: In first photo, U.S. Senator Bill Roth and Senator-Elect Thomas R. Carper show what Return Day is all about. In the bottom photo, the Freedom Singers sing God Bless America.


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