Change. It’s inevitable. Changing times, changing priorities, and changing scenery have affected the largest Delaware city down to the smallest tiny town. Things have gotten better in some ways and in some, we wish we could go backwards. I guess it’s progress, and newer things have filled the vacant places and spaces. But these 14 things are things we wish we could still do here in Delaware.
1. Rock out at the Stone Balloon
From 1972 to 2005, this was the place to be in Newark. Sure, the cheap beer on Thursday night "Mug Nights" was great, but more so were the bands that came to play. Local favorites went through a rotation, but Metallica, Dave Matthews Band and even Bruce Springsteen played the Balloon. Condos now stand in its place with restaurants on the ground floor.
2. Eat at Kirby and Holloway
This family restaurant was a classic greasy-spoon, popular for breakfast on the weekends. It opened in 1948 and became a typical 1950s drive-in diner, the kind you picture in old movies with girls balancing trays of food while they scurry around on roller skates. That part faded, but what never did was the down-home ambiance. A fire gutted the restaurant in 2014.
3. Drive south on a Friday without bumper to bumper traffic
If you are heading south towards the beaches area (even if that's not your final destination) you can count on seeing taillights for a decent portion of your trip. Route 1 does make things better than it used to be, at least through Dover, even though sometimes traffic does back up at the Dover toll plaza. But as soon as you get south of the Dover Air Force Base, there are some definite choke points, and once you get to Five Points in Lewes, prepare to crawl. Construction efforts to help alleviate the traffic, should help once they're finished but construction during the summer season is a nightmare.
4. Go to a drive-in movie
There were once at least 15 drive-in movie theaters in the state, having become really popular in the 1950s. Slowly, as newer movie theaters popped up decades later, they began closing one by one; you can still see some of the old screens standing in the middle of fields. The Diamond State Drive-In in Felton was one of the last standing. It was closed for a while in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, but opened back up for another run until 2008.
5. Go ice skating on a river or pond
Delaware winters used to be cold enough, and long enough to really freeze some lakes and ponds solid. And when it did, we'd strap on ice skates and go for a spin on a local pond. Old tales tell of even skating on the Brandywine River. Even now, if waterways do freeze good enough to hold a group of skaters, concerns over safety and liability usually keep people away. And so now you have to go somewhere indoors to pay to skate.
6. Turn on the news without hearing about crime in Wilmington
We hate that all of Wilmington is lumped together as 'Murdertown USA' when there really are some cool places to go and visit in the state's largest city. And we know that while the crime stinks in some areas, the city has more to offer than crime.
7. Go to a low-key Punkin Chunkin
Does anyone else remember going to Punkin Chunkin and parking right behind the snow fence with chunkers immediately in view, and no nets to catch pumpkins that flew the wrong way? Before TV crews came and helped spread the word about the World Championship Punkin Chunkin, it was like one big friendly gathering in a field. And while we love that growing crowds helped boost the donations that the event sponsors, we liked the low-key Punkin Chunkin. Two years in a row it's been gone now, with issues ranging from insurance to locations, and we hear it's coming back this year. No doubt that the event has and will forever be changed.
8. Dance your buns off at Kahunaville
Whether you called it the Big Kahuna or Kahunaville, this place was a playground for adults, and not kids like it is today as the Delaware Children's Museum. You could see the 'volcano' that marked the restaurant / night club's entrance from I-95. It abruptly closed in 2006, leaving patrons to go elsewhere for tiki-inspired fun.
9. See if the Wagon Wheel in Smyrna really DOES serve muskrat
Despite efforts of the Food Network's Restaurant Impossible back in 2013, and the restaurant's efforts to boost patronage, the Wagon Wheel closed for good in 2014. It has since been completely demolished, even though the sign still stands, now in the middle of a parking lot. Locals knew the Wagon Wheel as a good place to grab breakfast, and word of it having muskrat on the menu drew in curious outside customers.
10. Eat breakfast at two in the morning at the original Smyrna Diner
A few miles down the road, you can technically still go to the Smyrna Diner and eat, but it's just not the same in the new location. The original location opened in 1958, and in 2008 it moved to the new, larger location.
11. Get a strike at Brunswick Blue Hen Lanes in Newark
After over 50 years of operation in Newark, Blue Hen Lanes closed in 2014. They weren't the first of Delaware's classic bowling alleys to close, and unfortunately probably won't be the last. Remember disco bowling nights?
12. Throw pennies into the fountain at the Blue Hen Mall
I don't know about you, but when I was little, I loved to visit the fountain at the Blue Hen Mall in Dover. It was like a little tropical oasis in the middle of Dover. The 'new' Dover Mall had a few of those central gathering points, but nothing nearly as cool.
13. Chill at Del Rose Cafe
What is it about places in Delaware that close after 50+ years in business? Del Rose Cafe served up Italian food in Wilmington's Trolley Square neighborhood. Younger patrons knew it as a little place for good live music and no cover, in the midst of other nearby places that had one.
14. Dine on local seafood at the Village Inn
I remember going here with my family on special occasions, like my mom's birthday. And, if I recall correctly, we both ordered crab imperial which was served in big, fancy scallop shells. The building still stands, but it's far beyond an easy repair.
Do you remember all of the things listed here? What are some things that you wish you could still do here?