Events in 2018 will celebrate the town's founding, including concerts and huge Fourth of July parade and fireworks

A committee is planning to celebrate Smyrna’s 250th anniversary in a big way in 2018, with a series of events  culminating in a huge Fourth of July parade and fireworks display.

Smyrna Mayor John Embert said the volunteers organizing the celebration are examples of the pride people have in the town and the energy and enthusiasm they have to preserve Smyrna’s history.

“I think it shows why Smyrna is a great place to call home, to have so many people giving of their time to organize a year-long celebration for everyone to enjoy,” Embert said. “We have people who were involved in the 200th anniversary celebration on the committee along with the newer residents in our community all working for the same goal, to educate our residents on the history of our town and also celebrate this milestone in our town’s history.”

The town was formed in 1768 and was first called Salisbury, but was more popularly known as Duck Creek, according to the 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee. The community was on the banks of a busy waterway and at the crossroads of the major north-south road in Delaware, King’s Highway, and the major east-west route connecting the Delaware and Chesapeake bays. In 1806, the townspeople requested an official name change to Smyrna, after the thriving Turkish seaport of biblical times, and the change was granted by the Delaware Legislature.

Committee Chairman Brooks Keen said the idea for the 250th anniversary celebration started with conversations between himself and former mayor Joanne Masten.

“When she was mayor, Joanne and I just started talking one day along the lines of, ‘Do you realize the 250th anniversary of the town is coming up? We’ve got to get everyone together to start planning this,” said Keen, who is also president of the Duck Creek Historical Society which owns and operates the Smyrna Museum.

Keen and Masten started asking leaders from community groups, clubs and churches if they’d like to be involved, and a committee of about 30 people was formed. The committee has been meeting about once a month to discuss ideas for how and when to celebrate the 250th anniversary.

The committee’s plans to highlight the 250th anniversary at existing community events throughout 2018, such as the Smyrna Opera House Cotillion, I Love the Smyrna School District Day, the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association Wine Tasting Garden Party, Smyrna High School’s Homecoming and Christmas at Belmont Hall.

However, Keen said the main celebration will be held from late June to early July starting with the Smyrna at Night concert downtown June 27 and what could be the largest Fourth of July Parade and fireworks display the town has ever seen.

How to help

The committee has organized fundraisers to help finance the celebrations including the Founders’ Circle donors list, a history booklet for which ads are being accepted, and sales of 250th anniversary merchandise including commemorative coins, hats and flags.

The Founders’ Circle list will include the names of all those who donate $250 to the cause and will be included on a plaque and in the history booklet. For information, call Kathy Messer at (302) 242-8436 or email kathryntmesser@gmal.com or send your name, address, phone number, email and check payable to “July 4 th/250th” to July 4th/250th, 344 W. South St., Smyrna, DE 19977-1343.

The towns of Smyrna and Clayton have pledged more funds for the Fourth of July fireworks. Smyrna is paying for much of the cost of the Smyrna at Night concert, and a request is also being made for help from Kent County Levy Court.

Keen said the committee will be making more announcements when plans are finalized.

Embert said he hopes that everyone will “first of all enjoy the celebration and learn a little history of this great town we call home.”