Return day


Return day

Return Day is a semi-annual unique festival and ceremony held the Thursday after Election Day in Georgetown, Delaware, during which election results are announced.

History

In 1791, the Delaware Legislature established Georgetown as the county seat and required that Sussex County residents travel there in order to vote on election day. The votes were counted, and two days later, citizens returned to Georgetown to hear the results read.

[Return Day was] one of the customs peculiar to the people of Sussex, from time immemorial,..holding a high carnival on the day when the results of the election are announced. ["The History of Delaware" by J. Thomas Sharff. 1888.]

In 1811, the legislature established voting districts, but, results were still tallied and announced in Georgetown.

The tradition ceased in 1942 because of World War II, but was revived ten years later. [ [http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/99999999/HOMES05/60111015/1182 delawareonline ¦ The News Journal, Wilmington, Del. ¦ Georgetown Timeline ] ]

Modern Return Day

While television and the Internet has obviously eliminated the need for Return Day, tradition has kept the festival alive. Schools and government offices shut down for the afternoon of the Thursday after Election Day, and people from throughout the state flock to Georgetown for the festivals. The day still has a carnival atmosphere, complete with merchants, food vendors, and competitions, such as a hatchet tossing contest, pitting the mayor of Georgetown against the mayors of other Sussex County towns.

Parade

The winner and loser of each race ride together in a horse-drawn carriage in a parade from Sussex Central Middle School to The Circle, where they are announced and pass a reviewing stand. Other participants in the parae include current state officials, high school bands, and local pageant winners.

Ceremonial Burying of the Hatchet

Playing off the figure of speech "to bury the hachet" (meaning to put aside differences), the Sussex County chairmen of each political party meet on stage to literally bury a hatchet. The chairmen each clutch the hatchet and together plunge it into a box of sand.

Reading of the Returns

During the ceremony, the town crier (W. Layton Johnson) appears on the balcony of the County Courthouse and reads the results of statewide and Sussex County elections.

Ox Roast

Harkening back to the 19th century, when voters returning to Georgetown could dine on such fare as roast ox and oppossum, modern Return Day festivities kick-off with a concert and ox roast. A whole ox is roasted all night in the court house parking lot. After the reading of the returns the next afternoon, all attendees are offered a free ox meat sandwich.

Unofficial Beginning of the Campaign Season

Return Day is used by many politicians as a way to announce and/or create buzz for their upcoming campaign. Politicians often had out campaign stickers for the office they will seek in two years. Other people wear stickers exhibiting wishful thnking or encouraging their favorite candidate to seek higher office, such as supporters of Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, who at the 2004 Return day, wore "Ruth Ann for President" stickers [ [http://www.newszap.com/articles/2004/11/05/dm/central_delaware/aadsn01.txt www.newszap.com ] ] .

The biggest buzz at the 2006 Return Day was caused by stickers reading "I Back Jack", handed out by Jack Markell's campaign. The stickers purposely did not mention an office, allowing to continue spectulation that Markell, currently the state treasurer, will run for governor in 2008.

External links

* [http://www.returnday.org Return Day]

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • return day — n: a day when a return is to be made: as a: a day on which the defendant in an action or proceeding is to appear in court (as for arraignment) b: a day on which the defendant in an action must file an answer c: a day on which a hearing on an… …   Law dictionary

  • Return day — Return Re*turn , n. 1. The act of returning (intransitive), or coming back to the same place or condition; as, the return of one long absent; the return of health; the return of the seasons, or of an anniversary. [1913 Webster] At the return of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • return day — noun : a day when a return is to be made: as a. : a day on which the defendant in an action or proceeding is to appear in court and answer the writ or other mandate which is to be then returned b. : a day fixed for the return of all writs issued… …   Useful english dictionary

  • return day — The time specified in a writ or process for the defendant to appear and defend. 42Am J1st Proc § 14. The day fixed by law for a defendant to appear and answer following the service of process upon him. Carlson v Burt, 111 Cal 129, 43 P 583. The… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • return-day — …   Useful english dictionary

  • return day of an election — The day following an election upon which the board or other body legally authorized to canvass the returns of an election, is required by law to commence the canvass of the returns. Carlson v Burt, 111 Cal 129, 43 P 583 …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • Return — Re*turn , n. 1. The act of returning (intransitive), or coming back to the same place or condition; as, the return of one long absent; the return of health; the return of the seasons, or of an anniversary. [1913 Webster] At the return of the year …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Return ball — Return Re*turn , n. 1. The act of returning (intransitive), or coming back to the same place or condition; as, the return of one long absent; the return of health; the return of the seasons, or of an anniversary. [1913 Webster] At the return of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Return bend — Return Re*turn , n. 1. The act of returning (intransitive), or coming back to the same place or condition; as, the return of one long absent; the return of health; the return of the seasons, or of an anniversary. [1913 Webster] At the return of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Return flue — Return Re*turn , n. 1. The act of returning (intransitive), or coming back to the same place or condition; as, the return of one long absent; the return of health; the return of the seasons, or of an anniversary. [1913 Webster] At the return of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English


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