The 11th annual Riverwalk Freedom Festival, held in Milford last weekend, drew thousands to the downtown area. The festival reflected on the 10-year anniversary of the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001 and the heroic response from first responders at ground zero. The opening ceremonies on Saturday morning began with a patriotic remembrance march by local firefighters from fire companies across Delaware. Their march across the Bicentennial Park Bridges was led by the Caesar Rodney Junior ROTC Honor Guard.
First responders Bill Carpenter of Carlisle Fire Company, Andy Jones of Ellendale Fire Company and Mike Edward Career Staff EMS for Carlisle Fire Company placed ceremonial wreaths on the downtown war memorial to celebrate the courage and selflessness of the first responders on the morning of September 11, 2001. In an emotional ceremony, Kay Hudson narrated the events of that morning and recalled each tragic event from that day. As she described the first plane hitting the World Trade Center the emergency siren in downtown Milford sounded. The notion of chaos that was characterized by the siren brought tears to eyes of many listening to Kay.
Ms. Hudson also read a letter sent to her from a 9/11 survivor in response to the discontinuation of the Riverwalk Freedom Festival years ago. Peggy Reilly stated to Ms. Hudson, in person, that the event “had brought her so much healing and comfort that it must be continued.” The letter sent to Kay described Peggy’s morning on September 11, 2001 as she heard the first plane hit the World Trade Center Building, where she was working. “We were running down the stairs as firefighters were running up,” read Kay Hudson from Peggy’s letter. “I remember seeing a fireball in the lobby and the bodies falling from the buildings.”
Peggy Reilly also spoke of the week after the tragic events and how difficult it was to find normalcy in everyday tasks such as riding the elevator to her office. “I will always remember that day,” commented Peggy in her letter to Ms. Hudson. “I will never take for granted my family and the ones I love again.” Those sobering remarks left many to reflect on their own experiences of that day.
After the opening ceremonies were complete, Downtown Milford Inc. opened their weekly Farmer’s Market on Walnut Street. The market included vendors selling fresh vegetables, baked goods, homemade jewelry, arts and flowers. Business, crafts and food vendors covered the downtown area from Walnut Street to Bicentennial Park offering information on local services, entertainment for children and foods from several local restaurants. Among the events that day was the firefighter Tug of War, the Duck Dash and the Bayhealth Patriotic Baby Contest.
Live entertainment was held Friday and Saturday evenings in Bicentennial Park and included the Smooth Sound Dance Band, 501 Band, The Glass Onion and Still Surfin’. Hundreds of people came out to watch the Beach Boys cover band, Still Surfin’ and to view the fireworks display over the Mispillion River. With thunderous applause the spectators expressed their excitement and appreciation for the fireworks show and another successful Riverwalk Freedom Festival.