2nd Annual Johnnie Walker Beach Celebration kicked off in Lewes

LEWES, Del. - The 2nd Annual Johnnie Walker Beach Celebration kicked off with many gathered in Lewes this morning.

The beach on Georgia Avenue was previously called Beach Two and in 2021 with help from the Lewes African American Heritage Commission, the beach was renamed Johnnie Walker Beach.

Johnnie Walker was a black restaurant owner and pillar of the black community in Lewes during times of segregation in the 50's and 60's. 

Reverend Heather Rion-Starr, a resident of Milton came down to the ceremony because she was interested in the history behind the new name.  

"Today we got to hear the stories of folks who are kids here and just hear about how he served great burgers and fries and how he hired young people to be lifeguards," Rion-Starr said. 

One member of the Lewes African American Heritage Commission, Trina Brown-Hicks said this event commemorates a place and a person that made an big impact on her hometown of Lewes. 

"People had a place to go, black people had a place to go that they could call their own in and enjoy the beach just like anyone else and and be safe," Brown-Hicks said. 

Many gathered to celebrate and spread awareness of the history of the beach for the black community like Diane Butts who said the support for this event goes a long way. 

"There are people who don't look like us here, they're here to learn," Butts said. "The mayor came, the former mayor, people from the community and their supporters, so the message gets spread wide and far beyond us."

The goal of this event is to never forget the black history in Lewes and what's to come for the future of the Johnnie Walker Beach. 

"The black community has been a historic part of this area, part of what has built up the town and a part of what has supported the community and the commerce here," Rion-Starr said. 

"This beach and having these events are keeping that history alive and and one thing is to be proud of because the beach is still here," Anderson-Clay said. "We want it to thrive and really continue and just be that beacon of light here in this area for all people."