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Rehoboth Beach to celebrate Pride July 13-16

Dance parties, drag shows, yoga and more on tap

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A local gay couple has put together a weekend-long Pride celebration July 13-16. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Is Pride month over? Not if you ask Tony Zacchei. He and his partner have organized a four-day Pride extravaganza in Rehoboth Beach, Del., complete with happy hours, dancing, and yoga.

“I’ve been coming to Rehoboth since 1996 and I absolutely adore this town,” Zacchei said. “And what we realized last year is that, even though Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day are all great festive holidays, we didn’t have our own Pride.”

So Zacchei and his husband took matters into their own hands: The two started planning the long weekend back in January, working with Sussex Pride, CAMP Rehoboth, and Rehoboth’s queer bars to create what they hope will be the first of many Pride events in the beach town.

The long weekend starts with a 9 p.m. kickoff party at Freddie’s Beach Bar on Thursday, July 13. The rest of the long weekend includes yoga and a drag show on Saturday, a drag brunch on Sunday, and a dance party at Aqua Bar. The yoga and drag brunch are explicitly open to all – including those who don’t drink.

The duo started out with more ambitious ideas for a big Pride production, but realized they had to dial it down.

“We realized after talking to some folks at CAMP Rehoboth, at Sussex Pride that you really need a lot of infrastructure to throw a big Pride event,” Zacchei, a retired ophthalmologist, said. “So this year we kind of took a step back a little bit.”

Infrastructure wasn’t the only challenge – time was, too. Zacchei said he and his husband Jacob Anthony had to schedule around Pride events in Washington, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Provincetown, Mass., and New York as well as Market Days in Chicago and Disney’s Gay Days – all while letting people enjoy Rehoboth’s summer. The two are also in Rehoboth only half the year – most planning took place from their Miami home, making things more difficult. The 13th through the 16th ended up being the sweet spot – not just because his husband’s birthday is on the 15th.

The days include a first – the first dance party at Blue Moon in three years, since the pandemic struck. Zacchei said it wasn’t easy to convince the bar’s owners to host one.

“There was some hesitancy because they’re not used to, for the past three years throwing dance parties or really having much going on at the bar after 10,” Zacchei said. “We’re really glad that they’re going to do this, and I think there’s even the possibility that they may just continue to stay open for dancing on the weekends, which would thrill myself and a lot of folks.”

The Pride events have a charitable side as well – some event proceeds support Sussex Pride and CAMP Rehoboth. Zacchei and his husband have been big CAMP Rehoboth donors for some time – one pool party at the couple’s house raised $2,600, he said.

The couple hopes to put on Pride events rivaling those of big cities in the coming years, closing down Baltimore Avenue and hosting block parties.

“There’s been a lot of excitement here and we’re hoping to stress that this is clearly not a Tony and Jacob show. We are just trying to be facilitators to bring everybody together to work together,” Zacchei said. “And I think that is coming along very nicely.”

This year’s Pride is meant to be a celebration of the entire community, the Philadelphia native said.

“The LGBTQ+ community has taken the rainbow and it has made it our symbol,” Zacchei said. And just like the rainbow has every color, we want every type of person to share, grow with each Pride and be part of it with us.”

Here’s the full list of events:

THURSDAY, JULY 13
9 p.m. – Kickoff party at Freddie’s Beach Bar, S. 1st St. in Rehoboth

FRIDAY, JULY 14
4 p.m. – Happy hour at Aqua Grill, 57 Baltimore Ave. in Rehoboth
9 p.m. – Pride show and dance party at Blue Moon Bar, 35 Baltimore Ave. in Rehoboth

SATURDAY, JULY 15
10 a.m. – Pride yoga at Poodle Beach, 1103 S. Boardwalk in Rehoboth.
12 p.m. – Beach fun at Poodle Beach
4-6 p.m. – Pride barbeque and games at Aqua Grill
8:30 p.m. – Pride drag show at The Pines, 56 Baltimore Ave. in Rehoboth
10 p.m. – Pride party at Diego’s Bar & Nightclub, 37298 Rehoboth Ave. Extension in Rehoboth

SUNDAY, JULY 16
12 p.m. – Broadway drag brunch at Goolee’s Grille, 11 S. 1st St. in Rehoboth
12 p.m. – Pride drag brunch at The Pines
2-6 p.m. – Closing tea dance at Aqua Grill

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Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach gets rainbow crosswalks

Pride Month begins on Saturday

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(Photo courtesy of City of Rehoboth Beach's Instagram page)

The city of Rehoboth Beach has begun painting rainbow crosswalks in honor of the LGBTQ community. The crosswalks on the corners of First Street and Baltimore Avenue. and Second Street and Baltimore Avenue will have giant rainbows installed just as Pride Month kicks off. 

Images of city officials painting the crosswalk on Second Street were posted to the city of Rehoboth’s Instagram account on Wednesday and received positive comments. The post also announced next week’s plans to make a second Pride-painted sidewalk a block over on First Street after they are finished. 

The sidewalks, one of which lies on Steve Elkins Way in honor of the Rehoboth LGBTQ trailblazer, require three coats of paint to ensure the colors stay vibrant all summer.

The sidewalk appears to display the Philadelphia Pride Flag, which not only recognizes LGBTQ people but also LGBTQ people of color. The sidewalk has the six traditional Pride flag colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) representing various elements of being a part of the LGBTQ community, and black and brown symbolize the unique struggles of people of color in the LGBTQ community.

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Rehoboth Beach

Selling Rehoboth: Lee Ann Wilkinson wins prestigious real estate award

Longtime agent on beach prices, her LGBTQ allyship, and more

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Lee Ann Wilkinson doesn’t see real estate prices coming down anytime soon at the beach. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

Longtime Delaware real estate leader Lee Ann Wilkinson of Berkshire Hathaway recently celebrated a major industry award after being named No. 1 in total sales volume for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Network. Wilkinson, a Blade contributor, centers much of her work in the coastal communities of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. We caught up with her to discuss her long career in real estate, her LGBTQ allyship, and more.

Washington Blade: I learned your parents were in real estate, and you began working with them early on in your career. Did you initially intend to follow in their footsteps? 

Lee Ann Wilkinson: Not really. I majored in art. When I got out of college I couldn’t really find a job. So, my parents said, “You need to come work for us.”

Blade: I understand that as an art history major turned writer. Speaking of that: I know you have written some pieces for the Blade, about real estate trends, and the like. How do you pick your topics for these articles? 

Wilkinson:  People always want to know about real estate. Whether buying a first home, second home, a home to invest or retire in. It amazes even me how much interest there is. And it’s not just people looking to buy a $7 million home on beachfront property. It’s people looking to get something in budget for their family.

Blade: I know you have a lot of work in Rehoboth, the Delaware Valley’s historically gay beachside community. Was there ever a time you were NOT selling property to – I guess it was fair to say 40 years ago – mostly gay men? 

Wilkinson: Ha, I grew up coming down for the summer until my family moved here full-time from Norristown, outside of Philly. We had businesses and family in Rehoboth. I think Rehoboth has always been gay-friendly. We never thought about it. My grandfather had a house in Rehoboth before I was born. The gay population was always welcome.

Blade: Do you have a connection to the LGBTQ community beyond real estate? 

Wilkinson: Absolutely. One of my closest friends is a guy I went to college with at the University of Delaware, Joey. You know, Joey was maybe my first gay friend. In fact, we all went to the Easter Sunrise Service on the beach in Rehoboth. We have gay family members, so I have never thought that much about it being anything different.

Blade: I know you recently won a prestigious award with Berkshire Hathaway and were surprised to come in first place. Why?

Wilkinson: For the past 20 years or so we have been in the top 10. We started doing these national things with Berkshire Hathaway. To get in the top 10 was amazing to me especially going up against states like Florida, New Jersey, not to mention San Francisco or Bay Area agents. I just never thought we’d get to the number one spot. My only issue is — where to go now?

Blade: Where do you make your primary residence? Is that Lewes? Do you see the president on occasion? 

Wilkinson: I haven’t seen him at the beach. But he’s on the bike trail a lot. He pops up having breakfast. He goes to Mass at St. Edmond’s in Rehoboth on Saturday evening. But I’m often too busy with work on weekends to catch sight of him.

Blade: Having been in the industry 40 years, how do you find ways to get excited about your work? 

Wilkinson: I really am passionate about it. I really love a challenge. That’s part of the appeal for this job. I always like matching people with things. I really liked getting people the right bathing suits years ago. Selling, it’s just something I’m good at. I would get customers walking outta’ the store with three or four bathing suits when they only wanted one. 

Blade: Are you considering retiring in the next few years? Or will you always be associated with the industry on some level. Maybe as a mentor or silent partner? 

Wilkinson: Oh, no, I’ll always be involved. Three of my four daughters work for me. I am not retiring anytime soon. And if I did, they would be here to continue it on, and I am sure I’d weigh in.

Blade: So, this is very much a family legacy?

Wilkinson: Yeah. My parents are 87 and 91 now. Some 20 years ago mom predicted we’d see an increase in prices, people moving here, etc. I don’t know how she predicted it but mom is right.

Blade: Any current trends you’re noticing? 

Wilkinson: This cycle of people moving here, and prices increasing, and all the building happening. People think the prices are going to come down, but I don’t see that happening.

Blade: Tell me about that. Are the new building ventures changing the faces of Rehoboth and Lewes? After not visiting the Jersey Shore for over a decade I’ve been going the past few summers to my cousin’s place in Cape May. It’s a trailer on a nicely maintained campground and it’s what she can afford. And, there’s so much building happening there.

Wilkinson: Right? It’s about finding a second home you can afford. And, in terms of building projects, the good thing about Rehoboth and Lewes is they are strict on what you can and can’t build downtown. They aren’t going to tear down homes to build multi-family condos, not yet anyway. In Spring Lake, you are seeing townhomes. So, building is happening and we have some condos, but it’s great to not see “overbuilding” happening in these historically smaller cities.

To learn more about Ms. Wilkinson, or property in Sussex County, DE be sure to look for articles she publishes in the Blade and visit the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group website.

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Rehoboth Beach

New Rehoboth city manager called strong LGBTQ ally

Taylour Tedder backed first-ever Pride proclamation in conservative Nevada city

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Taylour Tedder (Photo courtesy City of Rehoboth Beach)

Taylour Tedder, whose appointment as the new Rehoboth Beach, Del. city manager has come under fire over his salary and benefits package, is described as a strong and committed LGBTQ community ally by the leader of an LGBTQ rights organization in Boulder City, Nev., where Tedder served as city manager for three years before being hired for that same position in Rehoboth.

He is scheduled to begin his new job in Rehoboth on May 15.

Brynn DeLorimier, president of Dam Pride, the LGBTQ organization of Boulder City, told the Washington Blade Tedder played a lead role in helping the group successfully lobby the mayor and City Council in what she calls a conservative, Republican-dominated city to approve earlier this year a first-ever proclamation naming June 2024 as Pride Month in Boulder City.

“I feel he’s very supportive,” DeLorimier said. “We’re really, really sad to see him go. I have a feeling we won’t find a city manager as progressive and diplomatic as he is,” she said. “So, Rehoboth Beach is really lucky to have him.”

Since it voted unanimously on April 8 to hire Tedder as city manager, the seven-member Rehoboth City Commission, which acts as a city council, has come under criticism from some Rehoboth residents for providing Tedder with a contract that includes an annual salary of $250,000, coverage of $50,000 for his moving expenses, and a $750,000 house loan that will be forgiven in full if he remains in his job for seven years.

Rehoboth’s two gay commissioners, Patrick Gossett, and Edward Chrzanowski, are among the commissioners who have been criticized for voting to hire Tedder on grounds, among other things, that his salary and benefits package are out of line with that given to Rehoboth’s previous city managers,

Rehoboth Mayor Stan Mills, who also serves on the commission, called Tedder “fiscally savvy, experienced in the day-day-day operations of a destination community, enthusiastic and energetic, and a fantastic communicator,” according to the Cape Gazette newspaper. Mills and others supportive of Tedder’s hiring have noted that in recent years city manager positions have become highly competitive among cities large and small across the country.

They point out that Rehoboth’s previous city manager, Laurence Christian, resigned and left the city in November of last year after serving only about 10 months. A salary and benefits package like what Tedder has received is needed to find and retain a talented and qualified city manager, his supporters have said.

Nearly all the public discussion about Tedder has centered on his salary and benefits as well as claims by some critics that he may not have certain job requirements specified in the Rehoboth City Charter. The Washington Blade could not find reports of any public discussion on whether the Rehoboth City Commission, including the two gay Commission members, sought to find out Tedder’s record and position on LGBTQ issues in a beach city with a large number of LGBTQ residents and visitors.

Kim Leisey, executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, the LGBTQ community Center, said she too had not heard of any discussion on Tedder’s record or positions on LGBTQ issues.

The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Tedder for comment. DeLorimier of Dam Pride, which she said is named for the Hoover Dam located in Boulder City that makes the city a national tourist destination, said Tedder told her his contract with Rehoboth prevents him from speaking with the press until he begins his new job on May 15.

Mills, the Rehoboth mayor, in response to a request for comment by the Blade, said he and the other commissioners could not publicly disclose the questions asked and responses they received, including any related to LGBTQ issues, in their interviews with candidates applying for the Rehoboth City Manager position under a confidentiality policy, according to Lynne Cohen, the Rehoboth City communications director.

“He did mention to me that the job posting for the city manager position mentioned or includes language that the City of Rehoboth Beach has a vibrant LGBTQ+ community,” Cohen said. “And that they had asked every candidate if they had read the job posting, and they indicated they had,” Cohen told the Blade in recounting her conversation with Mills.

Rehoboth officials have said Tedder was selected after a six-month nationwide search.

Prior to his tenure as city manager of Boulder City, Tedder served for a little over five years as assistant city manager for the city of Leavenworth, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City.

DeLorimier said she initially approached Boulder City officials last year to request that a Pride proclamation be issued in time for the June 2023 Pride celebration, but the mayor, a conservative Republican, turned down the request during a meeting that Tedder attended. She said the meeting became tense, noting that the mayor’s abrupt decision to say no came after she argued that LGBTQ residents in Boulder City deserved recognition during Pride month.

“At that point Taylour Tedder spoke up,” DeLorimier recalled. “He said, well, maybe start a group and gather support from the community and come back and ask again next year.” And that is exactly what she and others did, according to DeLorimier, who told of her and her fellow LGBTQ activists’ effort to create Dam Pride.

She also pointed out that Tedder mentioned that the city’s longstanding tradition of changing the color of a string of lights hanging over the city’s main street to celebrate special occasions like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, referred to as the “Bistro Lights,” could also be adopted to reflect Pride month.

“Taylour said, by the way, we can change them to rainbow colors with the flip of a switch,” DeLorimier recalls. “He offered that up himself. So, that indicates to me he’s very supportive of the cause.”  

Added DeLorimier, “I really feel like Taylour helped us. He gave us all the help we needed. And we will be celebrating Pride month, our very first one, this June.”

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