Longtime president will serve as Return Day parade’s grand marshal

GEORGETOWN — Rosalie Walls, president of Sussex County Return Day for 26 years, will serve as grand marshal of this year’s parade.

“It’s a real honor,” she said. “I’m humbled that they think I’ve paid my necessary duties to be one.”

She said she thought that she was going to have a chance to “sit in the bleachers and wear my jeans for a change” after turning over the presidency to Debbie Jones earlier this year.

Ms. Walls worked for the telephone company when she first joined the Return Day committee in 1972 at the encouragement of a friend. In her first year, she lined up parade judges.

Rosalie Walls

Rosalie Walls

In 1990, Jean West announced her resignation one night at a Return Day meeting. That night, someone nominated Ms. Walls to be the president and someone else quickly seconded the motion.

“Before I knew what was going on, I was president,” she said.

The 1990 Return Day, she said, was a memorable one.

“I was at the town hall when someone came in and said, ‘You better call the fire company because the ox stand’s on fire,” said Ms. Walls, who thought at the time they were kidding around  I went out and sure enough, they were serious – it was blazing.”

She has remained one of the five Return Day committee members, now serving as corresponding secretary.  She and the volunteers put in late nights leading up to Return Day.
“It’s amazing how things fall into place,” she said. “There are just so many different aspects, not just parade and not just the ox roast.”

In 1972 when Ms. Walls first led the Return Day committee, the rising star in Delaware politics was Joe Biden, who upset Republican incumbent Caleb Boggs in a race for U.S. Senate.

Ms. Walls said she thinks Vice President Biden has been absent from only one Return Day. She said she hasn’t heard yet whether Vice President Joe Biden is confirmed for this year’s event.

In 2008, security issues with the Vice President-elect created some challenges for Return Day and Georgetown, but Ms. Walls said she does not blame him.

“People ask every day if he’s coming,” she said. “Well, who knows? We probably won’t know until the last minute.”

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