a group of people sitting at a park

Milford Parade Opens for Sponsors, Entries

Terry RogersCulture, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

a group of people sitting at a park

Entrants in last year’s Milford Community Parade

Even though we are still in the throes of summer heat, the Milford Community Parade Committee has been hard at work planning the 2023 event. This year, the parade will be held Wednesday, October 18 with step off at 6:30 PM. The theme will be “The Great Outdoors.”

“The committee has officially opened its website for sponsors and entries to help groups and individuals begin brainstorming their ideas,” Charles Gray, Chairperson, said.

Gray continued that although this is called the Milford Community Parade, it is also the time of year people enjoy dressing up in costume.

“It’s October and we celebrate in costumes. We like to see fun costumes, spooky costumes and this year, we are even looking for spoofs to the normal outdoor themes,” Gray said. “Zombies that are fishing, someone riding a bear, woodland gnomes, storybook characters themed around outdoor activities, Snow White with a push mower or Captain America hanging up the laundry, the ideas are endless. Additional ideas for brainstorming can be found on the parade’s website.”

The parade was started by Mayor Evans in 1938 or 1939. In 1985, Mayor Joseph “Ronnie” Rogers asked Jim Gray, who owned a barbershop downtown, a past state president of the Delaware Jaycees and a Little League coach, to lead a new parade committee. Over the years, the Gray family has become heavily involved in the parade.

“As normal for Dad’s, their kids look to them for leadership and so the entire family got involved,” Gray said. “My dad, my sister, Carmen Kemper and I have all been chairpersons of the committee at some point over the past 30 years. Marie Jo Gray has been the treasurer for most of that time. We also have extended family and friends from Dover, Harrington, Milford, Houston, Lincoln and Magnolia who have also served.”

The annual parade brings more than 10,000 visitors from all over the Delmarva Peninsula to downtown Milford and, in past years, Milford Police Department has reported as many as 30,000 sitting along downtown streets watching as the parade goes by. Many place chairs to stake out their claim along the street early that morning. There are three reviewing stands with a concession vendor and portable restrooms along the parade route, which begins near the old Milford Middle School and ends at Milford Senior High School, travelling along Seabury Avenue and heading north on Walnut Street to 10th Street directly through Milford’s downtown. The reviewing stands can be found at City Hall, Milford Church of God and the former Milford Plant and Garden Center at the end of Walnut Street. Awards are given at the end of the parade.

Parade organizers anticipate participants will find fun ways to look at the great outdoors with humorous representations or spooky spinoffs.

Annually, parade participants have included civic groups, scout troops, business associations, businesses, and individuals or families.  Also included are marching bands and fire companies.

“Each of these categories bring a different representation of the surrounding communities,” stated Gray. “Our local heroes that accompany the fire trucks should be haled for their volunteerism. Scouts and civic groups are recognized with their missions and get a chance to have fun together while getting publicity for their group.”

Rules for entrants can be found on the Milford Community Parade website. In addition, an online entry form is available on the site, or those who wish to participate can call or fax 422-3038.

“One rule we want to stress,” Mr. Gray said. “We began and continue to not allow parade participants to hand out anything from the parade and this includes politicians. The rule is for every entrant in the parade and includes candy, paper, flyers or other objects. If a candidate breaks these rules, we feel it speaks to how well that candidate abides by rules.”

Those interested in sponsoring or entering, can find information at www.milfordparade.com.  Partners such as the City of Milford, Burris Logistics, community-minded businesses and individuals, too, provide the necessary logistical and financial support needed to operate the parade that travels 1.7 miles through the heart of town. Funding efforts such as sponsorships and fundraising events with the support of the business community and individuals, assist with expenses such as awards, band judges, portable restrooms and more.  More information can be found at the website under the tab for sponsor.

The Committee is an all-volunteer group, whose sole purpose is to plan and produce the parade annually.  A group of citizen-volunteers assist the committee each year to bring Walnut Street alive for the children in all of us.  Members of law enforcement and first responders also assist with the production and safety of the parade.

“We could not have such a successful parade if it wasn’t for our friends in law enforcement and first responders.  They too have been with us each and every year,” commented Gray.  “The parade is anticipated by so many, referred to as the Milford Halloween Parade for many years, you can feel how long someone has been coming if they refer to it as the Halloween Parade.  We began in the 1990’s with incorporating a yearly theme. This has led to some outstanding floats, beautiful music choices by bands and clever costumes. It was then we decided to re-brand to The Milford Community Parade.”

The current committee has been producing the parade for more than 30 years.

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