Stage Coach Gets Ferried to Delaware
A Mini- Stage Coach & A Tall Ferry Tale
It's not every day you see a stage coach pull up to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, but the first day after the 2018 Midterm elections, there she was! The story behind it, directly tied to the elections, was uniquely Delaware, although as with most Ferry Tales, it also has a New Jersey component.
The mini- stage coach at its heart is a golf cart modified by Jack Vliet, a three-time NJ state champion in single action shooting. The vehicle initially did unadorned service as Vliet's gun cart during shooting matches. But, as a member of the Cowboy Action Shooting Club, Vliet soon got the inspiration to decorate the cart to be more thematic to the club's roots. Within a few weeks, his plain golf cart was transformed into a bright red, mini Wells Fargo stage coach!
Two years ago, Robert T. Lee, a fellow shooter and Sheriff of Sussex County, DE, came up to Vliet to entice him into the Sussex County Return Day Parade. Held every two years, the parade and festival celebrates a Delaware tradition dating back to 1791 when all Sussex County voters had to travel twice to Georgetown, the County Seat. The first trip was to vote and the second was two days later to return and hear the election results when they were turned over from the Sheriff to the Town Crier.
Return Day is now a Delaware State holiday. In 2018, Vliet was taking the Cape May-Lewes Ferry from his home in Mays Landing, NJ to return for his own second parade in the 103rd Return Day festivities.
Vliet officially paid for just himself as the driver, but he had two unnamed passengers in the back seat -- manaquins he also designed himself to ride shotgun during parades. One might assume that he gained his talents from years at Bally's Wild West Casino, but he's really a 23 year vet of Harrah's, Atlantic City! When at the parade, his two passengers take front and center on the coach, and he goes inside to drive it via restored golf cart battery power. No tows or horses needed to keep this vehicle running!