Delaware is a state where everybody knows your name, and it’s full of sleepy small towns where everyday life tends to be routine and predictable. That’s why these super odd, headline-grabbing incidents caught everybody’s attention. Read our list of the 11 weirdest things to happen in Delaware, and see if you remember any of these odd stories making their way around your social circles.
1. It Rained Money in Lewes
Leonard Maull ran a local bait and tackle shop in Lewes for years, and when he died in 2012, the community missed his friendly attitude. They had no idea what he had in store until a year later, when a helicopter hovered above the city and began dropping thousands of dollars of cash from the sky. That's right, $10,000 was set aside in Maull's will to be flown over the harbor and dropped for strangers to enjoy. There's no documented proof of the event, though, because everybody was having too much fun running around collecting the 'paper rain'! Plenty of people who were dining at Irish Eyes ran from their tables to scoop up the cash, and it's easy to find someone you know who was there to witness it.
2. UD Researchers Caught A Shark (within a shark!)
It's like Turducken, except it's just shasharkrk. When UD researchers set out to recapture sharks carrying tracking tags, they didn't quite expect to capture a Dogfish AND a Sand Tiger Shark on one line. The dogfish was about 3' long, and entirely swallowed by the Sand Tiger Shark. Hey, Delaware's slogan is "endless discoveries", right? UD certainly delivered.
3. Schools on Lockdown... because of an Emu!
When it comes to the weirdest things to happen in Delaware, this might take the cake. For two months, a mysterious Emu ran through Delaware, causing schools to be on lockdown and thousands of residents to worry about encountering the bird. Nobody ever claimed the emu, but it was finally captured in a neighborhood in Odessa and relocated to a new home at a Delaware ranch, where he was renamed Eddie Horace. Just another day in historic, charming Delaware.
4. Daycare Fight Club
Everyone knows that the movie Fight Club was set in Wilmington, but fewer people know about the real-life sequel. In 2012, a story broke about Our Future Daycare in Dover when a video surfaced of three employees encouraging toddlers to fight each other. The video is hard to watch and really makes you wonder how women who were trusted with young children - who chose to make caring for young children their career - could put them in an awful, reckless situation. All three women were arrested and charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child, and more.
5. Joe Biden Showed Up in a Womens Locker Room
The Onion has a famous series of articles highlighting ridiculous situations Joe Biden gets himself into, so I really had to double check to be sure this wasn't satire. On EqualPayDay, the VP (with the best of intentions, I'm sure) tweeted this photograph of himself in a womens' locker room at University of Delaware. It's just a little strange, though, because college athletes do not get paid, and, well, the VP is in their locker room. I'll keep the rest of my comments to myself.
6. A Corpse is Mistaken for a Decoration
When a 42-year-old Frederica woman decided to end her life, she probably didn't expect it to make these kind of headlines. She hanged herself from a tree in her front yard along a busy road a few days before Halloween, and everybody who saw it assumed it was a decoration. It took hours for authorities to be called to the scene. This tragic story is one often told in the region when the holiday approaches.
7. 1 Square Mile Caused a Rift
Survey technology in the 1700s wasn't exactly state-of-the-art, and various agreements, treaties and surveys had left one square mile of land between Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania in dispute. In fact, it got so heated that well-respected surveyors were fired in 1763 to resolve the border dispute. Jeremiah Dixon and Charles Mason were called in, and the original Mason-Dixon line only ruled out Maryland's claim to the wedge. Pennsylvania and Delaware fought over the tract until 1921, when it officially became a part of Delaware. Those two surveyors couldn't have imagined the impact their work had on the history of this country.
8. Bob Marley worked for the DuPonts.
If you live in Delaware, any DuPont connection probably doesn't surprise you anymore. Of course, your cousin went to school with one of them. Your grandpa used to play poker with one. They're tied into the everyday culture of Delaware in ways that out-of-staters just don't get. But, I'll be honest, this one surprised me. Bob Marley, one of the most influential musicians of all time, worked as a DuPont lab assistant and on the assembly line, using the alias Donald Marley. Marley lived in Wilmington for a time and certainly fit in with the rest of the workforce.
9. The Village of Arden was founded
In 1900, the village of Arden was established as a radical Georgist single-tax town by a sculptor (Frank Stephens) and an architect (Will Price). Designed to be a Utopian village, Arden established many practices that are unusual in the state of Delaware, and throughout the country. For example, you can't buy or sell land in Arden - only 99-year leases are to be used. The land is all held in a trust. To this day, Ardenites take pride in their arts-and-crafts culture and live together in a close-knit community. Attend Ardenfest to see it for yourself!
10. Return Day - Politicians Bury the Hatchet
Every two years, Georgetown puts on a parade for Return Day, two days after election day. The winners of that year's elections parade in horse-drawn carriages around The Circle. So far, it sounds like a normal Democratic procession, but what makes it unique is the tradition that goes along with the event. When Return Day first began, colonial leaders decided to bury the hatchet - literally. To this day, Delaware's political winners and losers parade around town and then ceremonially bury an actual hatchet in a tub of sand.
11. A License Plate was Sold for $675,000
Delaware's relatively low population means that plenty of license plates have low numbers, and it's become a big deal in Delaware to have a low-numbered plate. That's why, in 2008, black tag license plate number "6" went up for public auction. What's insane, though, is that it sold for a record-high price of $675,000. Wow!
We’ve seen some pretty bizarre happenings over the years. Do you know any more interesting stories about the weirdest things to happen in Delaware? We’d love to hear from you about your favorite First State follies, so share them in the comments below.
weirdest things to happen in Delaware
April 17, 2020
What are the creepiest places in Delaware?
Some of the most haunted and creepiest places in Delaware include Fort Delaware in Delaware City, The Addy Sea Inn in Bethany Beach, and the Governor’s Mansion in Dover. All three places have long and storied pasts, and visitors experience paranormal happenings on a regular basis.
Do Delawareans have any strange habits?
There are a lot of things that make Delawareans unique. Some of our most interesting habits are culinary-based. We feast on scrapple, which is a breakfast meat made from… well, you don’t really want to know. When we have chicken and dumplings, our dumplings are actually noodles. And when it comes to subs (okay, or hoagies), we prefer ours with a bit of a Thanksgiving twist.
What is the most unique town in Delaware?
Many people would consider Arden to be the most unique town in Delaware. This old fashioned community was founded to be a utopian village, and their traditions have continued to this day. Attend a play hosted by the Actors Gild or enjoy a feast when you join the Dinner Gild for their weekly meal. If you want to see it all, mark your calendar for Ardenfest, held every September.