Slaughter Beach officials not interested in becoming a ‘party town’

SLAUGHTER BEACH – The annual Peace, Love & Horseshoe Crab Festival that takes place every spring at the DuPont Nature Center is about as “wild” a party as the sleepy fishing town of Slaughter Beach is accustomed to.

So, after a group decided to hold an impromptu, raucous unauthorized party of more than 150 people at Slaughter Beach on July 11th, Mayor Harry Ward and members of Town Council came together and said, “No more!”

Mayor Ward said the same group that organized the party in July – A Rellikiss Production – has been promoting another similar “Official Beach Takeover” for Saturday night that it called “Hennything Can Happen Beach Party” on several social media outlets.

The mayor said the town wasn’t interested in hosting such an event due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns and did not give the organizer a permit to hold it. The organizers have moved Saturday’s event to Wilmington, according to their Facebook page.

“We were informed that (A Rellikiss Production) had another event scheduled for (Saturday) at Slaughter Beach,” said Mayor Ward. “They did not (apply for a permit) initially when they advertised it. I was able to contact the organizer and we denied his permit application for a number of reasons – all legitimate.

“He hadn’t submitted it in time, he hadn’t put up a bond, he hadn’t given us an accurate count for people so that we could get an idea of how much security was going to be required, and he didn’t have any precautions or setup for clean-up. For that number of people, we just don’t have restroom facilities and he had no restroom facility, Port-a-John’s or anything else planned.”

The mayor added, “So we denied the permit and my understanding is as of (Wednesday) night he’s moved the venue to Wilmington, but we’re still taking precautions because we worry that something like this that gets out on social media, we have no idea whether all thousand people that are rumored that want to attend have gotten the message that it’s been moved to Wilmington.”

Town Council members put out a statement regarding the party that was looking to invade Slaughter Beach on Saturday night from 5 until 10 p.m.

“It is with sadness that the Town Council has to write this note,” its’ members wrote. “So much time and effort goes into making this wonderful community what it is, and this topic and results of this topic are a waste of so many peoples’ efforts.

“The results of (the) July 11 (unauthorized party) were not catastrophic, but they were certainly not positive.”

Mayor Ward said he believes the organizer, whose name he would not reveal, is promoting these parties to “make a name for himself.”

“I believe that he holds these functions to recruit talent,” he said. “I hate to say it that way, but that’s really what this looks like.”

Slaughter Beach Town Council’s measures to stop the proposed illegal gathering on Saturday will remain in place, even though the organizer said the event has been moved to Wilmington. Town Council has:

  • Been in contact with the “organizer” and outlined what permit requirements are required. It has denied his permit request.
  • Not been able to close Cedar Creek Road and Slaughter Beach Road to the public, so it will be moving its efforts into town.
  • Decided to “pylon” off all public parking at the center of town.
  • Elected to bring in light standards for this area and the corner of Slaughter Beach Road and Bay Avenue.
  • Decided to post emergency no parking signs from around Bridgeham Avenue through the center of town, south to Sussex Avenue.
  • Hired a contingent of off-duty state police for that evening.
  • Ensured that the state police themselves will be bringing in officers.
  • The Delaware Department of Transportation posting flashing signs on Slaughter Beach Road and Cedar Creek Road that say, “Beach Closed.”
  • Decided to close the pavilion and made restrooms unavailable.

Mayor Ward will also be decreeing a closure for Slaughter Beach for health and safety reasons (COVID-19) from 9 p.m. on Friday until 6 a.m. on Monday.

The mayor said this was modeled after what some of the resort beaches in Delaware did after “spring break style parties” occurred in those cities with little concern for masks and social distancing.

“We were on the governor’s call last Tuesday that he has with the mayors and he was pushing very hard to everyone to shut down large groups because that’s what’s keeping us on the (quarantine) lists in New York, New Jersey and other states around,” Mayor Ward said. “If we can push the numbers back down, then we won’t have this back-and-forth between northeast states.

“In my mind this is exactly the sort of thing that (Gov. John Carney) was talking about that we need to stop from happening. On July 11th when they had their party there wasn’t one mask and believe me, if you looked at the YouTube videos on it, there wasn’t any social distancing,” he said.

“It’s not like we’re objecting to people having fun but during this time you’ve got to do it smart. I get that everybody wants to get out – we all want to get out. I’d love to be able to go to parties, too. I’d love for the world to be a different world than it is right now, but it’s not.”

Town Council also cautioned that members of the Slaughter Beach community need to relax should another unauthorized party break out again on Saturday, though it is not expected.

“Please know that we have faith that we can stop this before it begins,” Town Council wrote in a letter to residents. “Having said that, hope is not a strategy, and should this function somehow build and become a reality, we need all of the community to keep their heads about them.

“We do not wish to engage in a way that will create an antagonistic setting. In this time of racial sensitivity, we don’t need to spark anything. I would ask all to stand down, and not provoke. I would ask any with weapons to keep them holstered or out of sight, and certainly not out on public property.”

Town Council added, “We want all to be safe and we recognize your rights to protect yourself. Do not take this commentary as some sort of ‘politically correct gesture.’ It is not that. We simply want all to recognize how things can get out of hand and we do not want any of our citizens in the midst of a difficult or dangerous situation.”