What Your Kids Know About Sex

Is oral sex real sex? How young is too young for intercourse? At a time when more Delaware teens than ever are having sex, their answers are important and surprising.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph by Dominic Episcopo

http://www.episcopo.com

Hair and Makeup by Dawn Troccoli

http://www.dawntroccoli.com

 

 

 

Andrea is typing a text message to her boyfriend, John. “CU2NITE,” the cell phone reads.

The white couple, from Middletown, are planning to do the same thing they’ve done every Friday night since they got together six months ago: smoke pot and drink “the Captain” (as they call Captain Morgan Spiced Rum) while lying naked in bed. “At the very least,” Andrea says. “I’ll give [John] a hand job.”

The hand job will be followed by fellatio. (John has not returned the favor.) Andrea isn’t sure if the acts will lead to intercourse. “But,” she says, “my boyfriend says, when I’m drunk, I do stuff I wouldn’t normally do.”

Andrea is 14. She’s in middle school.

John, 15, is a high school freshman.

Neither Andrea nor her friends consider hand jobs or oral sex to be sex. “Oral sex is just something we do,” says Andrea’s friend, Maria, a Hispanic 14-year-old. “It’s really just touching and like, using your mouth, but blow jobs are not sex.”

This is what teens do today. And that is what they feel about it. And if you think kids in Delaware are like kids elsewhere across the country, think again. On average, teens are having more sex in Delaware than teens in any other state in America.

“It’s not like we’re doing bad stuff,” says John, an athletic, B student. “I respect my girlfriend. And if she wants to wait a whole year to have sex, I’ll wait, I guess.” Andrea and John usually hang out with John’s friends—all guys. When the boys leave, the couple retreats to John’s bedroom. His parents are usually home.

“I don’t think they really know what we’re doing, but I guess they think we’re kissing and stuff,” John says. “What’s the big deal?”

The big deal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2005 Youth Risk Survey, is that at least 55 percent of the state’s teenagers are having intercourse, approximately 10 percent before the age of 13. Conservatively, 21 percent (males and females) drink alcohol or use drugs during sex, and most have been intimate with at least four partners.

The survey, completed anonymously by 3,000 students in 32 Delaware public high schools, indicates that about 37 percent of boys and girls have either given or received oral sex by ninth grade. By senior year, oral sex is standard fare for about 70 percent of boys and girls.

When the time becomes right for intercourse, John plans to use a condom. He’ll likely model Aaron, an African-American senior from Wilmington, who wouldn’t have sex without one. Aaron and his girlfriend of one year agreed on the right time to have intercourse, when he was 17 and she was 16. The difference between John and Aaron is that Aaron’s parents know their son is having sex.

“I don’t get into detail with my folks,” Aaron says, “but I don’t hide stuff from them either. They were cool about it and they asked if I was using a condom.” The couple also has sex at his home. Their parents are often, as Aaron says, “in the building.”

Andrea says her parents “don’t have a clue” about her activities with John. “They know I have a boyfriend, but that’s it,” she says. “When I have sex, I’ll run to my sister. She’ll put me right on the pill and she won’t get mad at me. Anyway, it’s none of my parents’ business.”

That’s not the way Mary, a white senior who attends a private school in Wilmington, feels. When she had sex for the first time at 15, she wanted to tell her parents, but was afraid of how they might react. Now that her father has been laid off from his job, tension at home is overwhelming. “I wouldn’t even think about talking to my mom about sex,” Mary says. “She’s very demanding and she doesn’t know I’m not a virgin.”

Mary’s dad is “oblivious to everything,” she says. “He thinks I have at least 10 years before I should even think about sex.” She expresses some regret about having sex early, but finds comfort in talking with friends. She worries that her younger sister could get into trouble.

Andrea’s friend, Tori, a 14-year-old Hispanic middle school student from Odessa and a self-proclaimed “vodka and OJ girl,” says her parents “maybe have a clue about what I’m doing, but they can’t really keep up with all our technology, like cells and iPods and email.” Tori won’t tell her parents that she’s already performed oral sex several times on a “totally hot” senior high boy. “If I told my mom that he fingers me and stuff, she’d go crazy.”

Like all kids, Andrea and her friends are naturally curious. Their bodies are changing. They are exploring their sexuality and testing their limits. The difference between now and, say, two decades ago, is that kids are starting to have sex earlier and girls are more aggressive than they used to be—or at least more candid.

But take the CDC Youth Risk Survey with a grain of salt. The numbers don’t represent every teenager in Delaware because private and religious schools do not accumulate such information. Archmere Academy nurse Rita Lee says no surveys regarding teen sexual behavior exist, but she and health teachers hope to start collecting data, an idea that religious leadership once snubbed. “It’s very important for us to discuss sexual matters. If we know what kids are doing, we know what to teach.”

Joan, the mother of a former student of a Christian school in Newark, says she’s seen students get expelled for sexual activity at the Christian school. Nevertheless, she hopes that the moral training provided a foundation for her 15-year-old daughter, Allie, who recently transferred to a public high school.

“Transferring raised some eyebrows at our church,” Joan says. “To hear people talk, you’d think walking down the hallway in public school, you’d see kids smoking pot, having sex and drinking beer. And admittedly, most of that [misconception] comes from our so-called Christian parents.”

Allie, an honor student, wears a promise ring that, she says, “signifies what the Bible says, that God designed sex for marriage and it isn’t something you casually give.” Four of Allie’s friends also wear promise rings. “I get teased a lot,” Allie says. “My family supports me. I can tell my mom anything. And if I’m made fun of throughout high school, then so be it.”

Like Allie, Rita, an Asian senior from Wilmington, is among the 45 percent of kids who don’t have sex. “I don’t consider myself unusual,” she says, though most of her friends are sexually active. “I consider myself independent. Their goal in life is to get a prom date. I’m more interested in why frogs have eight legs and why the environment is polluted.”

Instructors teach abstinence, safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS through health class in school. “But most kids don’t pay any attention in health class,” says Claire, an African-American junior from Laurel.

Last year, Judith Herrman, assistant director of the School of Nursing at the University of Delaware and the chair of the Teen Pregnancy Advisory Board at the Delaware Division of Public Health, conducted 17 focus groups over six weeks. She interviewed white, African-American, Hispanic, East Indian and Native American teens, gathering them from wellness centers, churches and teen support programs.

“Teens that are sexually active or considering becoming so want so much to talk openly about it with their parents,” says Herrman. “Certainly there are very complex issues surrounding teen sex, but in a nutshell, that’s all they really want.”

But Herrman knows that parents are up against a heavy force: the media. Teens are targeted with blatantly sexual images from clothing catalogues and Internet chat rooms to prime time television shows. Most entertainment shows, which air between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. every night, detail the lives of young, sex-starved icons. (The American Psychological Association estimates that teens are exposed to 14,000 sexual references and innuendos a year, and that’s just TV.)

In one week, for instance, Paris Hilton sent out naked invitations of herself for her Las Vegas birthday bash while Britney Spears shocked partiers at a New York club by stripping down to her underwear and humping a female dancer. A week later, Spears, a mother of two young children, revealed her naked crotch via a micro-mini. (That was the week’s No. 1 forum discussion topic on MySpace.com.)

Andrea, and teens across the state, downplays megastars as role models. “I mean, a lot of kids we know look up to Britney Spears.” Her friends love VH1’s “Surreal Life,” a reality show that features has-been stars living and often sleeping together in the same house for several months. (Ex-porn star Ron Jeremy was a cast member.) “Watching girls on TV just influences us in terms of fashion,” Andrea says. “We like the clothes.”

Professionals believe the emotional damage of media imaging is subliminal. “The way that sex and sexual images are portrayed has become an accepted and normal part of society,” says Katie Daly, extension educator at Delaware 4-H Youth Development. “Developmentally, teens and youth are able to manage and interpret some of the images on TV and videos they are witnessing, but not necessarily all of them.”

Dr. Robin Sesan, a psychologist from Wilmington, says we’re sending mixed messages to kids. “They read magazines like Cosmopolitan and Seventeen. The sex messages go out to 7-year-olds. And you can’t watch a TV commercial without having sex thrown in your face,” Sesan says. “Then kids go to sex-ed class, and we tell them not to have sex. What are they supposed to do? How are they supposed to feel?”

For real answers, go to any mall. Pat and Denise, two 16-year-olds from Claymont who are hanging at the Concord Mall on a school holiday, agree that adults “go nuts about what we watch on TV.” “Give us some credit,” Denise says. “We like the way Paris Hilton dresses, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to videotape our sex on the Internet like she does.”

Yet when Denise passes the Aéropostale store and stares at the super-sized advertisement—a gorgeous teen couple kissing—she pushes up her bra and wriggles around in tight low-cut jeans. (The look is intentional. It’s called camel toe, which means a girl wears tight pants to reveal the indent between her labia.) The female in the photo looks to be a size 2 or 0. The male is a ripped Hollywood stud.

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January 2016

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East Coast Garden Center
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Rainey Auditorium, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street
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Philadelphia, PA  19104-6324
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Cost: $15-$29

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110 Orchard Rd
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View map »


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Telephone: 302-831-2204
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Cost: 35-180

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Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

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Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

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Penn Museum
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $0-14

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Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
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View map »


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Website »

More information

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Cost: $15-$29

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Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


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Telephone: 302-831-2204
Contact Name: REP Box Office
Website »

More information

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Where:
, DE

More information

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Where:
, DE

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, DE

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Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

Nanticoke Physician Network General & Bariatric Surgery will be hosting bariatric support groups on the first Tuesday and third Thursday of each month from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm at Nanticoke Memorial...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Sponsor: Nanticoke Physician Network General & Bariatric Surgery
Telephone: 302-629-6611 x 8810
Contact Name: Shelly Geis

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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital offers childbirth classes on Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Ground Floor Conference Room. The class will meet each Thursday for a total of five...

Cost: $50

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Rd.
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 ext. 2540
Contact Name: Maternal Child Health Clinical Educator
Website »

More information

Prepare to gasp, shudder, and be on the edge of your seat in this ingenious thriller which inspired the classic film that garnered an Academy Award nomination for Audrey Hepburn. This murderous...

Cost: $15-$29

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: 302-831-2204
Contact Name: REP Box Office
Website »

More information

Location: Milford Senior Center, 111 Park Ave., Milford, Time: 8:40 a.m.– 9:30 a.m. Fee: $2 for non-members

Where:
, DE

More information

Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

More information

A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

More information

Chances are, if you look out your windows, it’s pretty wintry. When was the last time you saw lush green plants in that view? We have a cure for your blahs, straight from the...

Where:
, DE

More information

Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

More information

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Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Website »

More information

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, taking more lives than all cancers combined. On Friday, Feb. 5, the American Heart Association (AHA) asks that everyone wear red to raise awareness for...

Where:
Dover Downs Hotel and Conference Center
1131 N. DuPont Hwy
Dover, DE
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More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

Prepare to gasp, shudder, and be on the edge of your seat in this ingenious thriller which inspired the classic film that garnered an Academy Award nomination for Audrey Hepburn. This murderous...

Cost: $15-$29

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: 302-831-2204
Contact Name: REP Box Office
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

Chances are, if you look out your windows, it’s pretty wintry. When was the last time you saw lush green plants in that view? We have a cure for your blahs, straight from the...

Where:
, DE

More information

Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

More information

Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

More information

Location: Lewes Public Library, 111 Adams Ave., Lewes, 2nd Floor Time: 8:40 a.m.–9:30 a.m. Fee: Free

Where:
, DE

More information

Wear red and dine out at a participating restaurant to receive a free heart-healthy menu item. Tell your server you’re wearing red to celebrate “Wear Red Day.” “Go Red...

Where:
, DE

More information

A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

First Saturdays in the First State   Programs and events on the first Saturday of each month. Sites are open, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., check website for...

Cost: Free

Where:
First State Heritage Park
121 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd N
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Sponsor: First State Heritage Park
Telephone: 302-739-9194
Contact Name: Sarah Zimmerman
Website »

More information

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

First Saturdays in the First State   Programs and events on the first Saturday of each month. Sites are open, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., check website for...

Cost: Free

Where:
First State Heritage Park
121 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd N
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Sponsor: First State Heritage Park
Telephone: 302-739-9194
Contact Name: Sarah Zimmerman
Website »

More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

On Saturday, Feb. 6, the Wilmington, Del. Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction will host the 22nd annual Block Kids competition. It’s a free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hodgson Vo-Tech High School
2575 Glasgow Ave.
Newark, DE  19702
View map »


Sponsor: National Association of Women in Construction
Telephone: 302-453-4000
Contact Name: Laura Massimini
Website »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Guests can explore three floors of exhibitions in the Visitor Center, stroll along the river through dozens of historic structures from the Industrial Revolution, and explore the gardens and...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about romance. Join Macy’s Christiana for an afternoon of Valentine’s Day cheer to celebrate all the loves in your life—including yourself!...

Where:
Macy's at Christiana Mall
Women's Department, Level 1
502 Christiana Mall
Newark, DE  19702
View map »


Contact Name: Jessica Chan

More information

First Saturdays in the First State Programs and events on the first Saturday of each month. Sites are open, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., check website for details. Free admission. Something new every...

Cost: Free

Where:
First State Heritage Park
121 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd N
43 The Green
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Sponsor: First State Heritage Park
Telephone: 302-739-9194
Contact Name: Sarah Zimmerman
Website »

More information

The Chadds Ford Historical Society hosts its 8th annual Plein Air art event. Artists will be painting around the local area as well as the Barns Brinton House, John Chads House and Brandywine Creek...

Cost: General Admission: $10 | Exclusive Preview Party (includes 2 Tickets): $50

Where:
Chadds Ford Historical Society
1736 Creek Rd
Chadds Ford, PA  19317
View map »


Telephone: 610-388-7376
Contact Name: Derek Larson OR Allison Schell
Website »

More information

Prepare to gasp, shudder, and be on the edge of your seat in this ingenious thriller which inspired the classic film that garnered an Academy Award nomination for Audrey Hepburn. This murderous...

Cost: $15-$29

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: 302-831-2204
Contact Name: REP Box Office
Website »

More information

Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

More information

Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

More information

A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

More information

Chances are, if you look out your windows, it’s pretty wintry. When was the last time you saw lush green plants in that view? We have a cure for your blahs, straight from the...

Where:
, DE

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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