50 years

Since late 2004, Selbyville Police Chief Scott Collins has been sifting through minutes of old town meetings and copies of local newspapers archived in Dover and Selbyville or at various news organizations’ headquarters, searching for information on the town and department’s history.

Coastal Point • FILE PHOTO: Last year’s Old Timer’s Day brought out some vintage cars, and plenty of sunshine.Coastal Point • FILE PHOTO
Last year’s Old Timer’s Day brought out some vintage cars, and plenty of sunshine.

One news story published on July 19, 1943, and found by Collins on his search, tells of an former town mayor shooting at a burglary suspect. Other stories located by Collins, chronicling the department’s operations of the day, informed the public about Selbyville police raids on dice games.

The information collected will help celebrate the department’s 75th anniversary, as one of the many displays at Saturday’s 50th Annual Old Timer’s Day.

“Obviously with the history of the department and being here for 75 years, it’s neat to know where we came from and how we started,” Collins said. “We’re proud of where we are and we’re proud of where we’re going.”

Despite the 50th anniversary, this year is the first that the town and its employees have organized the annual tradition themselves, assuming planning duties after the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce resigned the job earlier this year.

In addition to the police department’s historical display (which will include pictures and documents), emergency vehicles and equipment from the department’s past and future will be displayed at the event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Church and Railroad streets, next to the town’s Railroad Museum. (The museum was opened last year with a ceremony preceding the 49th annual Old Timer’s Day.)

At 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, an opening ceremony will launch the 50th annual event with local and state dignitaries in attendance. Debbie McCabe and Lt. Robert Reed — the event’s two principle organizers — said that Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, son of U.S. Sen. Joe Biden and candidate for state attorney general; Rep. Gerald Hocker; Sen. George Bunting; Rep. John Atkins and Sussex County Councilman Vance Phillips, among others, will be on hand for the brief opening event.

From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., enthusiasts can stop by town hall and register their pre-1972 vehicle in the car show, which drew 85 cars last year. Registration for the show is free and the first 100 registrants will receive a free dash plaque.

While two Selbyville police officers judge the competition, the event’s attendees can walk around, enjoying the entertainment, food and beverages and displays. A clown, pony rides, a moon bounce and several games will be available for kids’ entertainment. Cathy Gorman will sing ’50s and ’60s favorites and the Red Cross, the Emergency Operations Center and the Department of Justice will supply displays available for viewing at Saturday’s event.

Horse-and-carriage rides will be available to take attendees from the Old Timer’s Day happenings to Hastings Funeral Home’s 110th anniversary celebration. And with the emergency equipment and vehicle display, anyone can check out the restored 1973 Plymouth Fury Selbyville Police car, which was used as a police car — but not in Selbyville. The equipment on and in the car, however — including the sirens and the radar — was formerly used by Selbyville’s police department.

McCabe and Reed said that they expect the event to eclipse those of years past and the only thing they’re worried about is the weather.

“It’s going to go beyond what we’ve had in the past because of the effort being put into it,” Reed said. “I think it’s going to be a big hit.”

Collins agreed, saying it will be fun and educational to celebrate the history of the town and the department, even if some of history’s events should be left there.

“We’re not breaking up dice games,” he said, “and it’s good our mayor isn’t shooting at people.”