Yesterday Mother Nature delivered up a picture-perfect day for the annual Point-to-Point races.
And while the thousands who would have happily invaded the grounds of Winterthur weren’t able to do so this year, that didn’t stop many devoted party-goers from coming up with their own ways to celebrate Delaware’s official kick-off to spring.
Many long-time fans of the race created their own tailgate parties at home – in front yards, on driveways – and others took their party on the road, setting up picnics in parks and along biking trails.
“It’s about being together — seeing family, close friends and old friends. We felt a strong need to us to celebrate with family today even though we can’t be on the grounds,” said Carrie Wedo, who invited her sister Jen Steiner and a few cousins over on Sunday. The Wedos and the Steiners share two tailgate spots each year at Point-to-Point.
Yesterday would have marked the 42nd running of the steeplechases at Winterthur. This was the first-ever complete cancellation of the event, which draws 16,000 horse fans and revelers to the 1,000-acre former country estate of Henry Francis du Pont.
Last year the Sunday races themselves were called due to wet conditions on the track but tailgaters were already on the grounds making the best of the soggy day.
One longtime Point to Point booster is the Mottola Group at Long & Foster.
Disappointed they wouldn’t be able to bring their clients and real estate agents together under the big top this year, the Mottola Group launched a Facebook event page encouraging friends to post old pics from years past and get everyone excited about virtual events planned for race day.
About 1,500 people joined their “Pandemic Point to Point Party,” posting new pics throughout the week on themes including beverage recipes, kids and fur babies, the Martha Stewart year (2006), and ‘rainboots.’ There’s been a lot of wet days at the races.
Yesterday, of course, was ‘race day.’ And if there was ever a time that you had to live under stay-at-home orders and throw a party for the likes of your own family and a cousin or two, yesterday was the day — dry, warm conditions and sunny skies all afternoon.
The show must go on
Nancy and Marc Greenberg offered a beautiful display on their front lawn. Perched on a 3-foot round table with a stunning, bright white skirted tablecloth was a sturdy stone vase filled with oodles of lilac flowers, hot pink azalea and Wisteria from her garden.
Nancy also placed a charcuterie board, appetizers, champagne and a bottle of hand sanitizer out for her guests, which included her immediate family, an older son’s girlfriend, and Nancy’s sister Nicole Thompson along with members of her family. They Zoomed with Nancy’s son Harry and his fiancé Danielle who live in Baltimore as well as Nicole and John Thompson’s son Nick, who lives in Charleston, SC.
“This was our way to raise a glass to family and friends and help support local businesses. And creating the tailgate spread gave us all something to look forward to,” said Greenberg, who ordered some of her hors d’oeuvres from Janssens. Greenberg also wore the dress and a special hat that she had purchased for this year’s Point-to-Point.
The Wedos and Steiners wanted to support local restaurants. So they ordered family-style takeout from El Diablo in Trolly Square to accompany a seasonal fruit platter and other nibbles. And they still made a bach of their ‘horse’s ass’ homemade rum punch.
‘Spot 151 just wasn’t the same 🐎’
Several folks shared pics of their more modest 2020 tailgates featuring their rail numbers. Others memorialized the day with lawn games, socially distant block parties and pics of guests in hats and facemasks.
Some paid homage to Point-to-Point from other beautiful local venues, from the terrace of their own homes to local parks. Laura Carpenter took a scenic bike ride down to Chesapeake City with her friend Kristen Greene on Saturday.
In their posts on the “Pandemic Point to Point Party” Facebook page, they can be seen wearing athletic leggings, sneakers, pink feathered boas and extravagant, wide-brimmed hats.
“Since we weren’t going to be able to celebrate one of our favorite Wilmington traditions, we started formulating our own plan. Knowing the weather would be better on Saturday, we decided to take a bike ride starting at the Jack Markell Trail and then spread out our blanket for a picnic lunch – of course practicing social distancing.”
Carpenter and Green enjoyed had strawberry lemonade and their own mix of blackberry seltzer with muddled raspberry, blueberry and lemon, a Waldorf chicken salad and chocolate-covered strawberries.
Wendy Hitchens Perry said, “We’re celebrating stay at home quarantine style. My husband has been laid off since early March, so no great spread of food. But we’re happily appreciating what we have!”
“It really would have been a gorgeous day for Point-to-Point,” said Race Director Jill Abbott, who for the first time in 22 years had the day off on Winterthur’s special Sunday. Abbott was thrilled with the excitement of those who created their own ways to celebrate.
“One of the things that I think Point-to-Point does is it creates memories. And it creates connections. So, I think out of anything in this crisis that, we know that we are all craving those. So, today if they can be together with family and friends, virtually or physically, they’re creating their own memory today, even though we’re not on the grounds of Point-to-Point. This is a wonderful memory in itself,” said Abbott.
The Mottola Group is asking visitors to their event page to consider making donations to a favorite charity or a local museum as a way to recognize the help so many organizations require during the pandemic.