by Terry Rogers
On Thursday, August 16, Downtown Milford, Inc. held the Second Annual Light Up the River event as part of the organization’s 3rd Thursday celebration. According to 3rd Thursday Committee Chairperson, Lang Redden, the event attracted a larger crowd than last year and the event included many new highlights.
“It’s hard to find words to describe the extreme awesomeness of [Thursday] night’s event,” Redden said, “but, if I were to pick a word, I would say it was ‘magical.’ The stories that were shared, the tears that were shed and the never ending smiles of the people at this event are priceless. It was a collaborative effort between volunteers and businesses that made this event possible.”
Redden’s favorite part of the evening was the boat launch. “It was like the entire City of Milford showed up to partake,” she said. “It was when you could see the emotions of the people all over their faces, whether they were there for the fun of the experience or they were honoring the memory of a treasured loved one.”
The event began in 2017 when DMI was looking to do an event that highlighted the Mispillion River as an important part of the town. When ideas were being formulated in the Promotions Committee, Redden came up with the idea of a river lantern festival. “Origami was something I learned from my mother when I was younger, so I had to figure out how to use that skill to light up the river,” Redden said. “I turned toward that idea and found paper boats to be the perfect solution. At the time, we were also in our second year of 3rd Thursdays, which is under DMI’s Economic Vitality branch. Volunteers made the suggestion to have the river event jointly with 3rd Thursday and Light up the River was born.”
This year, DMI expanded the event to include more live music, food trucks, vendors and children’s activities. Music was provided by Hannah Dale, the Problematics, Dana Wattay and the Music School of Delaware. The Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club held relay races, face painting and had a bouncy house. In addition, DMI added outdoor vendors that included craft vendors, local artists and non-profit organizations.
Boats, made by event goers and downtown businesses, were launched just after dark from the new public kayak launch installed behind Arena’s Restaurant. Redden hopes that people who attended the event learned of the beauty of Milford’s downtown area and were able to visit some of the unique shopping and eating options available.
“I feel we have the best of both worlds with nature and civilization colliding in our downtown,” Redden said. “We have businesses, non-profits, art galleries, but we also have multiple parks, the Riverwalk and the Mispillion River. I would like to think they could see what our downtown has to offer and remember to come back to shop, eat and play.”
Redden explained that DMI partnered with Matt Babbitt at Abbott’s Mill Nature Center in Milford, so half the proceeds earned were donated to the Delaware Nature Society.
“The Second Annual Light Up the River event was a huge success for Downtown,” Sara Pletcher, President of DMI, said. “3rd Thursdays were created to bring people downtown and the Light Up the River event did just that. The streets and shops were filled with families, friends, food trucks and activities. Kudos to Lang Redden for bringing her vision to the community for the second year in a row.”
DMI’s next 3rd Thursday event is Milford’s Birthday Party. The organization is asking anyone who considers themselves a Milfordian or who simply loves the town to come out in their maroon and gold for the birthday celebration planned for Thursday, September 20 from 5 to 8 PM. On Saturday, September 22, DMI will be hosting, in partnership with Gable Music Ventures, the Ladybug Festival, a free event that celebrates women in music. For more information, families can contact DMI at 302-839-1180, visit their website at www.downtownmilford.org or stop by their office at 207 S. Walnut Street in Milford.
Sign up for you free digital subscription of The Weekly Review, delivered directly to your email every Tuesday morning. A quick cover-to-cover read to catch up on the news of the week and experience great stories about our local communities. Sign up for your free email subscription below.