Parents share the Firefly experience

DOVER — When a group of Lewes mothers decided to bring their then 17-year-old children to the Firefly Music Festival last year and spend the week camping, they did so with a bit of trepidation.

“We came last year with the expectation that it was going to be a nightmare,” said Jennifer Rambo. “We thought there’d be all sorts of mayhem and that we’d have to come along just to keep an eye on the kids.”

Ms. Rambo said she was happily mistaken.

“Everything was fine,” she said. “Everyone here is really nice. I haven’t seen any fights or things that would concern me terribly. The security and medical staff presence just leaves me feeling like I have every reason to believe that my daughter will be perfectly safe.”

Sarah Rambo, who’s now 18, came up to Firefly with several of her friends and is tent-camping while her mom and accompanying “mom squad” enjoy a bit more luxury in the RV lot.

From left, Tracy Hynes, Carol Bada, Timmy Bada and Jennifer Rambo enjoy the festival on Friday in front of the Main Stage. The self dubbed “mom squad” is returning to Firefly with their kids for the second year. (Submitted photo)

“The kids are staying at the rugged sites because they wanted the camping experience and all of that,” said Carol Bada, a Lewes mother of two in Ms. Rambo’s group. “When they see us, it’s like they’re trying to lose us at all costs — but that’s fine, we’re having fun hanging out on our own.”

After becoming familiar with the festival last year, all the moms in the group felt comfortable taking a step back. But they’re still happy that they’re close to their kids — just in case.

Karen Ehrgott of poses with her daughter Madison at Firefly in Dover on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“My daughter is probably going to spend most of the festival on her own, but she said that she was glad I’d be here in case of an evacuation from a storm or if something happened and things got crazy,” said Ms. Rambo.

Ms. Rambo also extended her chaperoning services to the parents of her daughter’s friends who exchanged phone numbers with her to keep in contact if anything were to happen. And in terms of supplies, luckily for the kids, moms think of everything it seems.

“We brought tons of water so everyone stays hydrated and some extra camping chairs because sometimes people pee in the grass — you don’t want to sit in that,” said Ms. Rambo. “In the RVs we have a big stash of rain boots and ponchos too. The kids just come find us when they need something.”

Kerry Smith plays Foozeball with her son Collin 11, in the VIP tent at Firefly in Dover on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The kids seem to appreciate the support.

“The mom squad is the bomb squad,” Timmy Bada, Ms. Bada’s 22-year-old son, said enthusiastically.

According to the Festival rules, the event is “all ages” and “8-year-olds and younger are free for general admission.” However, Ms. Rambo does think there is such a thing as “too young” for the festival because of the explicit language, drinking, smoking and revealing clothing that can be easily found there.

“It’s just a personal opinion, but I think 16 and 17-years-old is a good age for the festival. I don’t see anything that worries me too much here, except for some of the clothing choices maybe,” she said. “But my friend is actually bringing two 14-year-old boys this year and I don’t think it’s going to be a problem because she’s probably going to keep them fairly close by and they’ll be camping right in front of our RV.”

A buggy carries festival goers from parent drop off area near Lot 18 to the main entrance of Firefly. (Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr.)

Some parents are at a point where they feel comfortable enough with the festival to just drop their kids off. In fact, there is a specially designated “parent drop-off lot” for the purpose. The turn-around lot is located on Persimmon Tree Lane about two miles east of the festival grounds and it has a walkway connecting to lot 18 — giving foot traffic access to The Woodlands.

Darrel Garcia from Wilmington dropped off his two daughters, Tamara, 16, and Carrie, 18, to meet up with their friends on Friday afternoon, confident they’d be safe and have an enjoyable weekend.

“Last year their mother and I came with them and camped together — we wanted to understand what the festival was really like first,” he said. “Sure, there are some adult things happening here, but if you explain to your kids what you want them to avoid and trust them to make good decisions, there’s not too much to be worried about. Plus, the security and staff presence here is pretty big. The festival appears to be well-run.”

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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