Nanticoke Riverfest visitors find ways to stay cool in the summertime heat

By Lynn R. Parks

Lemonade was a popular item Saturday, the second day of Riverfest, Seaford's annual celebration of the Nanticoke River. Temperatures were in the 90s and with the high humidity, High Street in downtown Seaford felt like a sauna.

"Ice cold lemonade!" a vendor called out to passers-by. "Get it while it's hot!"

In front of Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, a lemonade stand was doing brisk business. Volunteer Susan Hickey said that she expected sales over the two-day festival to near a thousand cups.

Proceeds from the lemonade stand will help pay for a missions trip to Cherokee, N.C., by members of the church's youth group. The group visits the southern town every year, Hickey said, and assists with projects headed up by the Cherokee United Methodist Church.

Helping out at the stand were members of the youth group as well as volunteers from Cub Scout Pack 182 and Girl Scout Troop 1321, both sponsored by the church.

The heat and humidity also made Saturday a great day for a swim in the Nanticoke River. Riverfest's iconic event, the Nanticoke River Float-In, got underway at 10:30 a.m., east of town, near U.S. 13. Over the next couple of hours, participants on all manner of floating devices paddled, kicked or just let the current carry them to the city's canoe launch on South North Street. The trip took about two hours.

Tina Craig of Seaford was standing near the canoe launch, waiting for her daughter and son-in-law, Amanda and Cole Scott, and their two daughters, Alyssa, 10, and Sierra, 14, to get there. Her granddaughters were in an inflatable orange boat, she said. Amanda and Cole were each in an inner tube.

"This is a great day for floating on the river," said Craig, who participated in the Float-In a couple of years ago. "This is a good family event, a time to get together with family and friends."

Mariel Burtell, Norah Fink and Cheryl Phillips were among the first people to complete the Float-In. They pulled up to the canoe launch on a blue and yellow raft with a yellow inner tube attached.

Burtelle said being on the Nanticoke was nothing new for the three women. Nearly every day, for about five months out of the year, they swim in the river: a half-mile against the tide, then a half-mile with it. Even after the Float-In, the "Nanticoke Mermaids," as they call themselves, were headed to Fink's home near the river for more swimming.

"We love it," Fink said. "The Nanticoke is the cleanest river. It's great for swimming."

Phillips revealed the real reason for swimming in the Nanticoke. "We are looking for mermen," she said. "And if we find them, you won't see us again."

Back on High Street, Reed Charnick, 7, was walking through the car show with his mom, Beth Charnick, and grandmother, Beverly Henry. Reed, of Seaford, was looking forward to the carnival, especially the tilt-a-whirl and paratrooper rides.

"This is our first time at Riverfest," Beth said. "Reed wanted to come, so we thought that we'd come down and check it out."

At the Nanticoke River Arts Council's Gallery 107, at the corner of High and Pine streets, children were trying their hand at art. Nancy Hall, owner of the downtown shop Two Cats in the Yard, had prepared mixtures of corn starch, food coloring and water and put them in spray bottles. Children could spray the "paint" around star-shaped stencils, then write their names in the blank spot left by the star.

Breanna Smith, 10, of Seaford, chose pink and blue to spray around the star; she wrote her name with a purple marker. "I'm really enjoying all of the activities here," she said afterward.

Breanna was at Riverfest with her mother, Michelle Smith, and her brother, Brendan Dixon, 5. Michelle said that she was happy to get to bring her children to the festival.

"This is something that I did when I was younger," she said. "I'm glad to get to share it with them."

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