Four times in the last 15 years, Lewes has been recognized as one of the most beautiful small towns in America. A fair share of the credit for that recognition should go to a dedicated group of volunteers known as Lewes in Bloom (LIB). The group was founded in 2002 by seven individuals with support from various Lewes officials and organizations. LIB is now nearing 250 volunteers who are knee-deep in the annual Tulip Celebration, now in full swing. The Lewes Historical Society is offering walking tours on April 9. The celebration is highlighted by the popular Tulip Sale taking place April 15 and 16 from 9 am to 3 pm on Lewes’ 2nd Street. Tulips adorning various locations eventually will give way to dazzling displays of colorful flowers and plants all over town.
Lewes’ success inspired a Rehoboth Beach resident to pursue similar goals in her beach town, according to Dan Slagle, executive director of the Rehoboth Beach Main Street, a non-profit organization that works to promote downtown Rehoboth Beach “as a year-round beach town with a vibrant commercial area, attractive signage and storefronts, a full calendar of events, and economic programs benefiting the business and residential community”. “Cindy Lovett is the brainchild behind the beautification of our ever-in-the-news beach town,” he said. It all started even before Rehoboth was launched into the media limelight (prior to the Biden presidency). Rehoboth in Bloom was started at a meeting in February 2019. about 20 people attended and many are still involved. While fledgling in terms of longevity when compared to the Lewes group, RIB now is closing in on 70 members, all volunteers. Now RB Main Street is heavily involved with Rehoboth in Bloom (RIB).
Lovett says she recognized the lack of a community in downtown Rehoboth and felt that “beautifying our wonderful town clearly was a mission.” She worked with a former city commissioner and studied both Bethany and Lewes flowers for inspiration and to get the project off the ground. The group uses self-watering Earth Planters to minimize the time it takes volunteers to properly keep the flowers and plants thriving, so they can maximize the beauty and streamline their efforts.
Mary Vandenburg, a former sales executive with AT&T, found Rehoboth in Bloom to be a worthwhile community project. A transplant from Baltimore/Annapolis, she now lives in Rehoboth:
“I had recently retired and was looking for a volunteer opportunity,” she said. When I saw that RIB was just starting, I was excited to be a part of helping to beautify downtown Rehoboth. I really don’t consider myself a gardener but I enjoy working with the planters and find satisfaction in the joy they bring to people – so this felt like a perfect match”.
Meeting and working with new people is the part of the project that she likes best. “As we work on the planters every week people are very appreciative of our efforts and the beauty the planters bring to Rehoboth,” she added.
Rehoboth in Bloom is 100% self-funding through donations and fundraisers. Lovett explained that Rehoboth Beach Main Street provides insurance, 5013c status and administrative support.
“We are going to try for the fifth time to have our Oldies Dance Fundraiser on April 29,” said Lovett. The dance will be held at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center from 7 pm to 10 pm. Tickets are $25 per person. Music and refreshments are part of the mix.
There are so many great ways to support these worthwhile organizations, as well as welcome opportunities to JOIN in the work. Make sure to SAVE the DATE for April 29th, before you pull on your windbreaker and get out to the currently running TULIP FESTIVAL events! Enjoy!
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Ophrah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.