Rules of Elections

Delaware’s elections have their own set of precedents, including “You do not embarrass the electorate.”


Published:


Illustration by Tom Labaff


Elections are notorious for having a lot of laws but not much in the way of rules. Whatever people can get away with, they do. Look no further than the Clintons. Email? Donations to the foundation? As they perfected a long time ago, it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Not that there are no rules in elections, but there are organic rules, stuff that happens over and over again until they might as well be rules. Delaware has its own set of them. These rules are not the obvious ones, like Sussex County will vote conservative or no candidates in their right mind would ever campaign for a sales tax, but the unseen rules that mysteriously govern the currents of the election.

Whatever, nobody has been able to break them yet.

Rule 1: Nobody gets elected governor anymore without having already run and won statewide.
This is a small state. People here like to think they know everybody else, and that includes their governor. No first-timers need apply. This rule has been in effect ever since the parties did away with choosing their gubernatorial nominees by conventions, controlled by the party leadership, and went to primaries, controlled by the voters, in the early 1970s. Here is the record since: Sherman Tribbitt? Previously the Democratic lieutenant governor. Pete du Pont? The Republican congressman beforehand. Mike Castle? The Republican lieutenant governor. Tom Carper? The Democratic congressman and treasurer. Ruth Ann Minner? The Democratic lieutenant governor. Jack Markell? The Democratic treasurer. This rule could make certain people very happy, either now or later, namely, John Carney, the Democratic congressman and former lieutenant governor; Matt Denn, the Democratic attorney general and previously the lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner; and Ken Simpler, the Republican treasurer.

Rule 2: “You do not embarrass the electorate.”
Jim Soles, the late political scientist from the University of Delaware, was the one who coined this rule. As he put it, “In Delaware politics, you do not embarrass the electorate. The people who do that have all been defeated.” This rule is not about silly embarrassments, like Joe Biden over-whispering to the president that Obamacare is a BFD. That is just “Our Joe.” This is for seriously humiliating situations, like what happened with Charlie Terry. He was the Democratic governor who sent the National Guard into Wilmington during the riots of 1968. It was all right to send the troops in. The problem was he never took them out. It became the longest military occupation of an American city since the Civil War and a national laughingstock. It got so bad that Calvin Trillin, the political humorist, came in to see for himself and wrote scathingly about the patrols. People can look it up in “Corporate Capital,”a city history by Carol Hoffecker. Terry lost the 1968 election. It did not help his cause that he also had a heart attack in October. It would probably be helpful to remember this rule as Dennis Williams runs for re-election as the Democratic mayor in Wilmington in 2016. It was not good to be the one in charge when Newsweek called the city “Murder Town USA.”

Rule 3: The curse of the Senate Republicans.
When Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees, Boston paid for it with 85 years of champion-less baseball. Something like that has been going on in the state Senate. Two Republican state senators defected in 1973 to give the Democrats the majority, and the Republicans have been mired in the minority ever since. Whenever the Republicans have come close to taking over the chamber, something happens. They got within two seats in the 21-member chamber when they won a special election in 1994 by persuading Margaret Rose Henry, who was a Democrat, to run on their ticket, but Henry soon flipped back to the Democrats, and that was that. The Republicans thought they had a path to the majority if the elections broke their way in 2012 and 2014, but no such luck. Instead, one of their state senators retired and another lost.The Republicans are currently down 12-9, and it does not look good for them in 2016. In Babe Ruth reckoning, they would be about halfway through the curse. Yikes.

Rule 4: It is not nice to fool the voters.
Fool with Mother Nature? She looks like a creampuff compared to voters who get fooled with. Look at what happened with Joe Booth, a Republican from Sussex County. He was having such a nice political career until he forgot the rule. Booth seemed charmed. He got to Legislative Hall by taking out a sitting Democratic state representative in 2002, a big year for the Republicans as the first election since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Next, he became a genuine Republican hero in 2009, when he won a special election for a state Senate seat that had been on the Democratic side of the aisle for 37 years. Booth had a scare in 2010 when the Tea Party came after him in a Republican primary, but the charmed life held, and he survived. Only afterward did he let on that he was going to take an administrative job with the Sussex Technical School District. Oops. The voters were not amused. Not only did they think he pulled a fast one, they looked at his double-dipping like he was double-crossing them, and out he went in 2012.

Rule 5: There is always a surprise.
Check with “President” Al Gore about this one, or with “Senator” Mike Castle. 
 

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May 2019

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Telephone: 302-577-8278
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Cost: FREE

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The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
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View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
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Cost: Free with admission.

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More information

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Cost: FREE

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View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
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Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

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The Delaware Contemporary
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View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
Telephone: 302-656-6466
Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

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Cost: $6-$20

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View map »


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Contact Name: Information & Tours
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free with admission

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View map »


Sponsor: Historic Odessa Foundation
Telephone: 302-378-4119-
Contact Name: Jennifer Cabell Kostik
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

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View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

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Cost: $25–$45

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View map »


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Website »

More information

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View map »


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Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Plein Air, an exhibition of local landscape paintings by Jim Rehak, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from May 3-31, 2019. The artist will host a free opening reception on Friday, May 3 from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
2nd Floor, Carvel Building
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

Helena van Emmerik-Finn  “Anything Goes” ~ Pastels & Oil Paintings Opening Reception to Meet the Artist – Friday, May 3, 5 – 8 PM   Helena’s...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

cusp The University of Delaware 2019 MFA Thesis Exhibition May 3 - May 30 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, May 3, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop In a joint venture with the...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
Telephone: 302-656-6466
Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

March 23 – August 4, 2019 Edward Loper, Sr. is one of Delaware’s most celebrated artists, having lived his entire life in the state and taught generations of local artists. His son,...

Cost: Free with admission.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

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Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Historic Houses of Odessa
201 Main Street
Odessa, DE  19730
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Sponsor: Historic Odessa Foundation
Telephone: 302-378-4119-
Contact Name: Jennifer Cabell Kostik
Website »

More information

From the dazzling gold of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation robe to the simple sophistication of Princess Margaret’s wedding dress, from the majesty of royal crowns and tiaras to the comfort...

Cost: $6-$20

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
5105 Kennett Pike
Winterthur, DE  19807
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Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information & Tours
Website »

More information

TACIT 2019 Friends' Juried Exhibition May 21 - September 26, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, June 7, 2019 5 - 9 PM during first Friday Art Loop Juried by Cynthia Hawkins...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
Telephone: 302-656-6466
Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

NEW HEIGHTS Erica Loustau  January 11 - December 11, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  7 - 9 PM Seeking to engage the unused space of our atrium lobby, artist...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition May 3 – May 26, 2019 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, May 3, 2019, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop In a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
Telephone: 302-656-6466
Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

Thursdays  Storytime at the Brandywine Zoo, 10:30 am. - 11:15 am Enjoy fun animal stories read by our own zoo story-telling team! Story Time may include a craft, activity, or live animal...

Cost: Adults $7, Seniors $5, Kids $5; free for under 3yrs and for Zoo members.

Where:
Brandywine Zoo
1001 North Park Drive
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Telephone: 302-571-7747
Website »

More information

Schedule a private group tour followed by lunch or dinner with a historic, revolutionary war era presentation.* Ideal for conferences, corporate meetings, special interest groups. $25 per...

Cost: $25–$45

Where:
The University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

Start your Sunday on the water with our delicious brunch cruise. Enjoy a mouth-watering brunch buffet, then begin a two-hour cruise along the beautiful Christina River out to the Delaware, complete...

Cost: $45 for Adults, $22,50 for Children 15 and Under

Where:
Riverboat Queen
Riverwalk Public Dock, Behind Iron Hill
620 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-425-4890
Website »

More information

Relax and unwind after a long day with the Museum’s popular Happy Hour series. Mingle with friends and enjoy live music on the terrace or tour the galleries indoors. Special themed nights...

Cost: Museum Admission is Free

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Website »

More information

Start your weekend early on the Queen! Enjoy all the sights of our River Cruise from the ship’s deck with a summer cocktail! Our Happy Hour Cruises take you down the Christina and provide weekly...

Cost: Adults: $24 Seniors: $20 Kids: $12

Where:
Riverboat Queen
Riverwalk Public Dock, Behind Iron Hill
620 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-425-4890

More information

Book your party of 10+ people on The Patio & receive 10% off for everyone in your group, in addition to a reserved table! Offer available only when prearranged. The Patio at Market Kitchen...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Market Kitchen & Bar at the Hilton Christiana
100 Continental Dr.
Newark, DE  19713
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More information

Laura Story is a GRAMMY award-winning singer/ songwriter and bestselling author who has received Billboard Music Awards, multiple GMA Dove Awards, and an RIAA Gold Certification for her massive No....

Cost: $26-$38

Where:
The Grand Opera House
818 N. Market Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: MARKINC.org
Telephone: 302-584-6461
Contact Name: Melissa Weisenfels
Website »

More information

The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
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Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

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Plein Air, an exhibition of local landscape paintings by Jim Rehak, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from May 3-31, 2019. The artist will host a free opening reception on Friday, May 3 from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
2nd Floor, Carvel Building
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

Helena van Emmerik-Finn  “Anything Goes” ~ Pastels & Oil Paintings Opening Reception to Meet the Artist – Friday, May 3, 5 – 8 PM   Helena’s...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

TACIT 2019 Friends' Juried Exhibition May 21 - September 26, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, June 7, 2019 5 - 9 PM during first Friday Art Loop Juried by Cynthia Hawkins...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
Telephone: 302-656-6466
Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

March 23 – August 4, 2019 Edward Loper, Sr. is one of Delaware’s most celebrated artists, having lived his entire life in the state and taught generations of local artists. His son,...

Cost: Free with admission.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

Commemorate the prolific artistic achievements of two distinguished Delaware artists at the Historic Odessa Foundation’s exhibit, The Keepers of Color: Paintings by Marilyn Bauman and Edward...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Historic Houses of Odessa
201 Main Street
Odessa, DE  19730
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Odessa Foundation
Telephone: 302-378-4119-
Contact Name: Jennifer Cabell Kostik
Website »

More information

cusp The University of Delaware 2019 MFA Thesis Exhibition May 3 - May 30 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, May 3, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop In a joint venture with the...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
Telephone: 302-656-6466
Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

From the dazzling gold of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation robe to the simple sophistication of Princess Margaret’s wedding dress, from the majesty of royal crowns and tiaras to the comfort...

Cost: $6-$20

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
5105 Kennett Pike
Winterthur, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information & Tours
Website »

More information

NEW HEIGHTS Erica Loustau  January 11 - December 11, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  7 - 9 PM Seeking to engage the unused space of our atrium lobby, artist...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition May 3 – May 26, 2019 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, May 3, 2019, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop In a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
Telephone: 302-656-6466
Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

Every Friday | 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.   Read a story fromFairy Tales to Nursery Rhymes, explore art, and create. Ages 2+. Family Friendly.  

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentemere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Schedule a private group tour followed by lunch or dinner with a historic, revolutionary war era presentation.* Ideal for conferences, corporate meetings, special interest groups. $25 per...

Cost: $25–$45

Where:
The University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

The Milton Farmers’ Market is held each Friday from April 19th until October 4th  (except September 27th) from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm at 6 Village Center Boulevard, Milton, DE  19968.

Cost: Free

Where:
Grounds of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
6 Village Center Boulevard
Milton, DE  19968
View map »


Sponsor: Milton Farmers' Market
Contact Name: KA Jordan
Website »

More information

Join us for a 1.5 hour sightseeing tour along the historic Christiana River. View the city from this unique vantage point, and enjoy picturesque scenes crossing over the Brandywine River out to the...

Cost: Adults: $24 Seniors: $20 Kids:12

Where:
Riverboat Queen
Riverwalk Public Dock, Behind Iron Hill
620 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-425-4890

More information

The Overfalls Foundation Benefit and Auctions will be held on Friday, May 24, 6-9PM, at the Virden Center in Lewes. There will be great food and drink and also live music by local band 33-1/3...

Cost: $50-$55

Where:
Virden Center
1155 College Drive
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: The Overfalls Foundation
Telephone: 412-384-0600
Contact Name: Victoria Kosko
Website »

More information

The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
View map »


Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

More information

Experience the city like never before on this special evening version of our tour! The city's lights make this a romantic evening along the water. Enjoy a full-bar and delicious snacks while you...

Cost: Adults: $24 Seniors: $20 Kids: $12

Where:
Riverboat Queen
Riverwalk Public Dock, Behind Iron Hill
620 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-425-4890

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Helena van Emmerik-Finn  “Anything Goes” ~ Pastels & Oil Paintings Opening Reception to Meet the Artist – Friday, May 3, 5 – 8 PM   Helena’s...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The 12th annual Artisans Fair will feature unique handcrafted art objects. Artisans will exhibit both inside and outside, showing textiles, fine art, glass, jewelry, photography, woodworking,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lord Baltimore Elementary School
120 Atlantic Ave.
Route 26
Ocean View, DE  19970
View map »


Sponsor: South Coastal DE AARP
Telephone: 302-732-6336
Contact Name: Ida Crist
Website »

More information

UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition May 3 – May 26, 2019 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, May 3, 2019, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop In a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
Telephone: 302-656-6466
Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

TACIT 2019 Friends' Juried Exhibition May 21 - September 26, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, June 7, 2019 5 - 9 PM during first Friday Art Loop Juried by Cynthia Hawkins...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
Telephone: 302-656-6466
Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

From the dazzling gold of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation robe to the simple sophistication of Princess Margaret’s wedding dress, from the majesty of royal crowns and tiaras to the comfort...

Cost: $6-$20

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
5105 Kennett Pike
Winterthur, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information & Tours
Website »

More information

cusp The University of Delaware 2019 MFA Thesis Exhibition May 3 - May 30 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, May 3, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop In a joint venture with the...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: The Delaware Contemporary
Telephone: 302-656-6466
Contact Name: Tatiana Michels
Website »

More information

March 23 – August 4, 2019 Edward Loper, Sr. is one of Delaware’s most celebrated artists, having lived his entire life in the state and taught generations of local artists. His son,...

Cost: Free with admission.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

NEW HEIGHTS Erica Loustau  January 11 - December 11, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  7 - 9 PM Seeking to engage the unused space of our atrium lobby, artist...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

Commemorate the prolific artistic achievements of two distinguished Delaware artists at the Historic Odessa Foundation’s exhibit, The Keepers of Color: Paintings by Marilyn Bauman and Edward...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Historic Houses of Odessa
201 Main Street
Odessa, DE  19730
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Odessa Foundation
Telephone: 302-378-4119-
Contact Name: Jennifer Cabell Kostik
Website »

More information

Schedule a private group tour followed by lunch or dinner with a historic, revolutionary war era presentation.* Ideal for conferences, corporate meetings, special interest groups. $25 per...

Cost: $25–$45

Where:
The University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

Every Sat. & Sun.: Creature Features, Noon- 12:30pm, www.brandywinezoo.org (302) 571-7747 Stop by our Creature Feature for a close encounter with one of our zoo education animals. Meet a scaled,...

Cost: Adults $ 5, Seniors $4, Kids $3; free for under 3yrs and for members.

Where:
Brandywine Zoo
1001 North Park Drive
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for a 1.5 hour sightseeing tour along the historic Christiana River. View the city from this unique vantage point, and enjoy picturesque scenes crossing over the Brandywine River out to the...

Cost: Adults: $24 Seniors: $20 Kids:12

Where:
Riverboat Queen
Riverwalk Public Dock, Behind Iron Hill
620 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-425-4890

More information

The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
View map »


Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

More information

Experience the city like never before on this special evening version of our tour! The city's lights make this a romantic evening along the water. Enjoy a full-bar and delicious snacks while you...

Cost: Adults: $24 Seniors: $20 Kids: $12

Where:
Riverboat Queen
Riverwalk Public Dock, Behind Iron Hill
620 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-425-4890

More information

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