Millsboro parade offers youth the chance to meet Uncle Sam

Coastal Point • File Photo : Participants in last year’s Millsboro youth parade show off their patriotism.Coastal Point • File Photo : Participants in last year’s Millsboro youth parade show off their patriotism.For seven years, the youth of Millsboro have been parading in celebration of the Fourth of July, and they’ll continue that tradition this year.

The youth parade was started by Dorothy LeCates, a Millsboro resident, who was the driving force behind the installation of the labyrinth at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Millsboro.

“The whole world is kind of confused right now. If we get quiet within ourselves, we go about our daily business with a little more intention in a mindful manner,” said LeCates. “The labyrinth, the walking meditation and prayer center, was built for the community by volunteers on church property but was donated for the use of the community.”

The labyrinth’s construction was started in March of 2006, and it was dedicated on July 4, 2006.

“The Fourth of July is not only the birthday of this country but is the birthday of our labyrinth,” said LeCates.

This year, the parade will be held on July 4 itself, beginning at 10 a.m. at the labyrinth, with an opening ceremony.

“Cathy Gorman will sing ‘God Bless America’ and will open the program on the labyrinth, with the cross and American flag. Our Boy Scouts will do the color guard. Our young Marines will present the colors. And then we’ll introduce our special guest.”

This year’s parade theme is “Uncle Sam Wants Kids,” and Uncle Sam will be the parade’s special guest.

“A lot of children these days don’t know who Uncle Sam is. I was born back in the ’40s, when Uncle Sam was on every mailbox in this country, for the draft. So we’ll do a little history and then we’ll introduce our special guest. He will have everything from a sequined red-, white-and-blue jacket to a real beard! He will be real, and the kids can touch him.”

During the opening ceremony, the four Macaulay children of Indian Head, Md. will give a special presentation.

“I have little children, ranging from 12 down to 5, who are going to travel three hours, all the way from Indian Head, Md. They recite the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. They are incredible children,” said LeCates. “I am thrilled that they’ll be special guests. They’ll knock your socks off… The youngest, he’ll come dressed as George Washington. They will be an inspiration.”

Following the ceremony, kids will parade down to the town’s Cupola Park, where Mayor Robert Bryan will present awards.

“The American Legion Post 28 Auxiliary will give an American flag to every child in this parade. All these kids will dress in red, white and blue. They’ll dress up their dogs and decorate their bicycles — there are no motorized vehicles allowed. A little kid on his bicycle with red-, white-and-blue tassels — that’s something for a little kid! And I’ll be bring up the tail end of the parade on my big old tricycle,” said LeCates with a laugh.

“The Millsboro police will stop the traffic on [Route] 24, coming and going, until we cross over on foot, go down to the fire hall, and go down to Cupola Park. Linda Draper will sing a few patriotic songs in the park. The mayor will present prizes to the kids who are Best of Show, Best Bicycle, Best Stroller, Best Wagon and Best Dog, and we have a 90-year-old veteran, pushed in a wheelchair, playing ‘Taps’ for the kids.”

LeCates said the parade has continued to grow over the years, with approximately 27 children participating in 2006 to now having about 100 kids.

“We get a few more every year,” she said.

LeCates said families are being encouraged to bring picnic lunches and enjoy the rest of the day in the town’s beautiful park.

“If, in keeping this parade alive, a little bit of patriotism is kept alive, carried through the life of a youngster, we will have done our job. Patriotism sure needs a boost in this country,” said LeCates. “I hope it’ll grow stronger and that every child will leave with a little more patriotic spirit that has been instilled in them. If we touched their hearts in some way, then our goal will have been accomplished.”

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church is located on W. State Street in downtown Millsboro.