Back in July 2010, a young, beautiful Delaware native invited me to her hometown for a second date. All it took was a night out on the town, which included a stop at the iconic Strand Theatre, and she had me hooked on not only her, but on the city as well.
Fast-forward 10 years and not only am I happily married to the woman who introduced me to Delaware, but I’m also a proud resident of the city for almost a decade now and the editor of the Delaware Gazette.
What stood out to me most on my first visit to downtown Delaware was how alive it was that evening. Every parking space was accounted for, stores and restaurants were packed, and the streets were lined with families and couples out having a great time.
Since that first trip to the city some 10 years ago, I’ve become accustomed to everything the city has to offer, from Main Street Delaware events to some of the best parades I’ve ever seen.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 put a damper on many of the city’s time-honored traditions in 2020. Over the past decade, my family has made some wonderful memories at these events, many of which we took for granted. After this year, I think we will cherish these events more moving forward.
One of our favorite things to do as a family is to attend Main Street Delaware’s First Friday events. While some events were held virtually this year, it just wasn’t the same as being able to gather together with the community in downtown Delaware.
Our favorite First Friday events are the ones that give us the chance to celebrate the likes of our first responders and local sports teams, and to kick off the holiday season with the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree.
Nothing beats seeing my son get a chance to not only meet our brave first responders, but to also interact with them, whether that be by getting the chance to test his aim with a fire hose or getting a lesson on the ins and outs of a fire truck or ambulance.
When it comes to celebrating school spirit, with my wife being both a Hayes High School and Ohio Wesleyan University graduate, we never miss a chance to cheer on both schools during the September First Friday celebration. Plus, teacher appreciation is held during this particular event, and my wife deserves all the recognition and free goodies she can get for the time and effort she puts in to help educate the kids of Delaware.
With large gatherings canceled this year due to the pandemic, it meant the community missed out on a handful of parades, especially the granddaddy of them all — the annual All Horse Parade, which draws anywhere from approximately 30,000 to as many as 85,000 spectators a year, depending on the weather and different attractions in the parade.
As a photographer, it’s by far my favorite parade to shoot every year. Also, my son loves animals, so it’s always a family favorite. I remember the first time my wife took me to the All Horse Parade some years back. I’ve honestly never seen so many horses all at once. It certainly is a spectacle not to be missed.
Our other favorites are the Veterans Day Parade as I never miss a chance to support our local heroes, and, of course, the annual Main Street Delaware Christmas Parade as my son looks forward to seeing Santa make his way to town. Also, I have to make sure to capture jolly old St. Nick’s visit for the front page of The Gazette.
Finally, I can’t write a column about great traditions here in Delaware that were put on hold this year without mentioning the Delaware County Fair.
While exhibitors were allowed to take part in the junior fair shows and the annual Little Brown Jug harness race was held, spectators were few and far between, as were food vendors.
While I did make it out to take photos for The Gazette, it just wasn’t the same without large crowds gathered in the midway waiting to hop on a ride or play a carnival game, along with the smell of fair food coming from vendors lined up for what seems like miles.
Every year since moving to Delaware, my wife and I have always made it a point to grab a stromboli on our way out the gate as they are our guilty pleasure every September when the fair rolls around.
Last year, our son finally got to experience the thrill of fair rides, and he took a liking to one carnival delight — giant corn dogs.
While we missed out on making new fair memories in 2020 and stuffing our faces with all that wonderful food, I did, however, get to enjoy several jumbo sweet teas while covering the junior fair shows for The Gazette.
Now that a vaccine is starting to be administered to people across the country, I’m hopeful life will return to some sort of normal in 2021 that allows Delawareans to gather once again to enjoy all our city has to offer, from a vibrant downtown to family-friendly events where memories are waiting to be made.
Joshua Keeran is editor of The Delaware Gazette. Reach him by email at [email protected] or by phone at 740-413-0900.