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Some Republican officials planning to replace canceled Return Day 2020

Delaware Public Media

A few state and local Republican officials say they intend to hold their own Return Day despite the Delaware post-election tradition being canceled.

The Sussex County Return Day Committee announced in September it canceled the 2020 edition of the event due to COVID-19 concerns. 

State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, State Rep. Ruth Briggs King and Georgetown Mayor Bill West announced Thursday they will hold the ceremonial Reading of Returns and Burying of the Hatchet November 5th on the Circle in Georgetown—without the parade and other pomp and circumstance.

Pettyjohn says it’s what his constituents want.

“They were really looking forward to Return Day; to really putting this political season that we’re in now behind us,” said Pettyjohn.        

Delaware Democratic Party Executive Director Jesse Chadderdon says his party supports the spirit of Return Day but does not expect it will participate at this point. He adds he is leaving it up to individual Democratic officials to decide if they want to attend.

“If one or more of them thought that this was an event they want to participate in we hope they would do it safely and responsibly as we hope the Republicans who are organizing it will do,” said Chadderdon.         

Chadderdon adds Democrats are taking their guidance from the committee that canceled the event.

In an email, Pettyjohn notes Sussex County Democratic Party chair Jane Hovington as well as chairs from the Republican, Libertarian, and Independent parties have all agreed to attend the event.

Pettyjohn encourages all who wish to attend the 2020 iteration of Return Day to be safe.      

“Anybody that shows up as spectators they’re going to be required and expected to abide by all the COVID-19 restrictions that might be in place, in terms of social distancing, face coverings, things like that,” he said. “We want people to enjoy themselves but be safe at the same time.”         

The event is not authorized by the Sussex County Return Day Committee. Still, the Circle will be closed to traffic from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM. The Returns will be read at noon followed by the burrying of the hatchet. No additional Return Day-related events will be held by the organizers.

This story has been updated.

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