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Self-described big mouth Tom Scott as his alter-ego. Photograph by Luigi CiuffetelliUD season football tickets: $132. Subaru Outback painted blue and yellow: $200. Gold football jersey sporting 00: $25. Blue paint for covering bald dome: $3. Becoming Helmet Head and rooting for the Fightin’ Blue Hens: priceless.

This is Tom Scott’s ninth season as Helmet Head—the blue-headed fan known to roam the stands, lead cheers and high-five folks to generate excitement. It’s all about the fun, sportsmanship and positive reinforcement. “They’re all college kids,” says the UD alum. “I can cheer for our guys, but need to remember that the other team are kids as well.”

Scott starts the game-day ritual as soon as he leaves his home in Middletown. The Blue Hen fight song blasts from speakers atop his car all the way up Del. 896 and into the parking lot at Delaware Stadium.

The self-described “big mouth” says he and his alter ego share several values. Family comes first. Behavior must be appropriate. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

As you might have guessed, Helmet Head was born at a tailgate. The next week, Scott shaved his melon and has done so ever since. When a family commitment once prevented the traditional head painting, the fans booed when he arrived. So Scott’s family now suits up, too. His wife, parents and children wear shirts with their names: Mrs. Helmet Head, Helmet Sr., Helmet’s Mom, Princess Helmet, Helmet Jr., Mini Helmet and Helmet Reloaded.

“It’s a great sport and a good time,” Scott says, “and a great way to spend time with my family.”

Priceless. 

—Paula F. Kelly
 

Page 2:  Fighting for a Future

 

Delaware Futures students working at the Food Bank.Fighting for a Future

Delaware Futures will honor alumni in October at a luncheon featuring Jill Biden as the keynote speaker.

Since 1993 the Wilmington-based non-profit has helped 119 at-risk, economically disadvantaged Delaware students go to college. Starting the summer after eighth grade, qualified students receive year-round tutoring and mentoring to help them develop academic, social and problem-solving skills. “We fully support them over four years of high school,” says executive director Denise Tolliver. “We can see them as aspiring to go to college, then becoming the first generation of their family to actually accomplish their goal.”

All Delaware Futures graduates have been accepted to college or the military, qualifying for scholarships to one of 12 partner colleges, including University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Delaware Tech, Wesley College and Wilmington University.

This year, the program expanded its freshman class from 16 to 25. By 2011, 100 students will be enrolled. More than half of the students come from single-parent families. The program is offered for free, but the annual cost is about $5,000 per student. Futures depends on public and private funding, as well as volunteers. Its four paid advisors function much like a high school counselor, though the student-advisor ratio at Delaware Futures, at 25 to 1, is much lower than that of local public high schools.

Alumni to be honored at the October 16 luncheon include Ronika Money, Bruce Taylor and Amir Garcia. Delaware Tech president Orlando George will emcee.

Money, raised by her mother, is just the second person in her family to earn a high school diploma and the first to attend and graduate from college. She also earned a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

“It’s very rewarding,” Tolliver says. “We are really making an impact at getting at-risk youth into college.”

For more information, to volunteer or to reserve a seat at the alumni recognition luncheon, call 652-8609, or visit delawarefutures.org.

 —Drew Ostroski
 

Page 3: A Very Good Morning | WDEL grabs a big-time national award for its early newscast.

 

Peter MacArthur, Chris Carl and Mellany Armstrong (from left) work hard every day to deliver the news. Photograph by Joe del Tufo

A Very Good Morning

WDEL grabs a big-time national award for its early newscast.

After wrapping the newscast on June 5, 2008, WDEL morning anchor Peter MacArthur turned to news and programming director Chris Carl. “You might want to save this one,” MacArthur said.

Carl saves only a handful of recordings each year, but he squirreled away that newscast, whittled it from three hours to 20 minutes, then entered it in the Radio-Television News Directors Association’s annual contest.

Carl and company were thrilled when “Delaware’s Morning News” topped 13 other stations to nail the national Edward R. Murrow award for Best Newscast for a small market station. Carl had set out to win the Murrow when he became the Wilmington-based station’s news director in July 1999.

“(The winning) broadcast had lots of natural sound, local sound and live mic sound. It’s not your typical anchor-cut, anchor-cut,” Carl says. “It’s a true representation of what we do. We are actually going out and reporting the news.”

That morning’s newscast led with the end of a Delaware National Guard deployment, followed by Hillary Clinton announcing the end of her run for president and Carl Kanefsky reporting from Dover that the Joint Finance Committee was lopping millions of dollars from the Medicaid budget. Another story covered the memorial service for former Wilmington mayor Bill McLaughlin.

Along with MacArthur and co-anchor Mellany Armstrong, who won her own Murrow a couple years ago, Carl credits everyone involved with the newscast, including the sports and TrafficWatch teams.

WDEL will receive the award during a black-tie dinner in New York City this month. “The nice part of this award, it was truly a team effort,” Carl says. “We all enjoy working together and enjoy what we do. They all work hard every day. It’s kind of a justification. It’s nice to get feedback from other professionals that you’re doing a good job. We’re really grateful for that.”                

—Drew Ostroski
 

Page 4: This Old du Pont House | A new book showcases the famous family’s homes and lifestyles.

 

This Old du Pont House

A new book showcases the famous family’s homes and lifestyles.

The du Pont legacy is rooted in the Brandywine Valley. Maggie Lidz’s new book, “The du Ponts: Houses and Gardens in the Brandywine 1900-1951,” explains the family’s love for it.

The book details how the family created its own value system through architecture and landscaping. There is a chapter for each of the 25 homes, including the estates of Longwood, Nemours, Bellevue and Winterthur. “I have always been interested in how architecture expresses people’s values,” says Lidz. “The du Pont family was a great vehicle to get into that.”

Lidz, historian for Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, became interested in architecture and estates while working on her doctoral thesis. That interest grew through research at Winterthur. The du Pont houses offer a glimpse into family traditions and lifestyles of the early 20th century. “The architecture helps tell the story of what was happening historically,” Lidz says.

She focuses on the architectural aspects, but can’t help telling stories of the people. “It reads as a biography of a family through their houses,” says Vicky Saltzman of Winterthur. “[For Maggie] it became really personal, a real exploration project.”            

—Jen Bray
 

Page 5: Confidence Building | A new lodge in Hockessin will help Girl Scouts and others with math and science skills. Plus, it’s easy on the earth.

 

The center hopes to become the first platinum-rated LEED building  in the state. Confidence Building

A new lodge in Hockessin will help Girl Scouts and others with math and science skills. Plus, it’s easy on the earth.

“Fun” and “exciting” are not words typically associated with learning math and science, but the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay aims to change that with its new, state-of-the-art Science and math Technology Lodge in Hockessin.

The lodge was developed around studies that show girls perform worse on standardized math and science tests than boys not for lack of ability, but lack of confidence. At the center, girls can flourish while holding true to the Girl Scout principle of environmental stewardship.

The $1.9 million, 5,000-square-foot facility features a lab and inflatable planetarium. Girls can also participate in outdoor activities such as water sampling and insect studies.

“It’s the hands-on projects and experiments that do it,” says project manager Lynn Williams. “You go out in the field first. Then if you don’t know, you say, ‘I don’t know. Let’s look it up.’ Then you can go to book learning.”

The lodge was built using the latest green technology. It is expected to earn a LEED-certified rating of platinum, the highest. It would be the first building in Delaware to achieve the status.

Liz Farrell, the council’s communications and advocacy manager, says construction was a rewarding learning experience for those who helped determined the best ways to go green. As a result, visitors can read meters indicating how much water and electricity the building saves through features such as dual-flush toilets, rainwater collection cisterns for irrigation and an architectural design that maximizes solar power.

The council hopes the unique building will help Girl Scouts and other young ladies who are frustrated with math and science.

“By teaching girls, catching them early and giving them confidence, you’re saying, ‘You can be an astronaut or scientist or an engineer,’” Williams says. “We’re providing options to help young women find their wings.”

— Marianne Nagengast
 

Page 6: Monster Mash | Jamie DiStefano makes his own friends. He can make yours, too. Actual flesh and bones not required.

 

Photograph by Christian KayeMonster Mash

Jamie DiStefano makes his own friends. He can make yours, too. Actual flesh and bones not required.

Somewhere between the Bates Motel and the gruesome farmhouse from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is Jamie DiStefano’s Wilmington home. Human skeletons hang from the walls. A 10-gallon bucket brims with fingers and other body parts. Instruments of torture, demonic writs, shrunken heads and voodoo dolls clutter every shelf and corner.

Parked at ease in chairs across the living room are three rotting corpses. Their flesh is shriveled, their eye sockets empty. Toothy grins play across their faces. All that’s missing is the smell—and any semblance of actual human bone or tissue.

The corpses are 100 percent unreal.

DiStefano is the proprietor of Corpses for Sale, a one-man operation that sells handmade, life-sized and eerily realistic corpses. Using PVC tubes, chicken wire, wood and liquid latex, DiStefano crafts, then sells the sculptures for use in haunted houses, at Halloween parties, in indie horror flicks and more.

The pages of horror magazines such as Fangoria and Gore Zone and Hollywood special effects guru Tom Savini inspired the creations, which DiStefano has been making since the early 1990s.

Customers can choose the gender of the corpse, skin color, hair color and degree of decay. A male runs $545. Females costs $595 because DiStefano outfits them in wigs, dresses, jewelry and high heels. A male corpse with medium skin tone and light decay is DiStefano’s best seller. Glowing eye sockets are optional.

Though his hobby might earn occasional strange looks, DiStefano says he’s never run into trouble, legal or otherwise. “Most people realize it’s more of an art thing and not something weird,” he says. “I think younger people grasp it better than the older folks.”

DiStefano says Rob Zombie, “The Exorcist” actress Linda Blair and Savini have expressed their reverence via email.

October is, naturally, a big month for DiStefano, as everyone from tattoo artists, heavy metal bands and car show vendors line up for a corpse to call their own. Visit to the graveyard not required.

—Matt Amis
 

Page 7: All the News That’s Not Fit to Use as a Tablecloth

 

Photograph by Ben FournierAll the News That’s Not Fit to Use as a Tablecloth

The struggling economy has affected the Kent County dining scene in a way most folks wouldn’t expect.

In this case, a local newspaper became a little smaller and, as a result, lunchtime at a local tavern got a little louder.

For years, Sambo’s Tavern in Leipsic repurposed leftover copies of the Delaware State News as tablecloths. The practice became a trademark for the popular crab house. But when the State News downsized from the broadsheet format to a smaller tabloid-sized paper this year, Sambo’s had a problem: The papers no longer covered the tables.

Owner Elva Burrows was forced to send employees to local convenience stores to collect day-old News Journals and Wall Street Journals to replace “The Downstate Daily.” The change caused a bit of a ruckus at the 50-plus-year-old establishment.

Burrows says lunch customers who were used to working the State News’ crossword puzzle on their “tablecloth” were forced to find something else to do. So they began to talk and cut up.

“It’s a lot noisier now. People are carrying on at lunchtime,” she says, laughing. “People really miss their puzzle.”

At least the change didn’t make customers crabby.     

 —Drew Ostroski

Page 8: Excellence on Main | Rehoboth Beach Main Street wins big for its work in the thriving resort.

 

A four-year streetscape project helped beautify Rehoboth Avenue.Excellence on Main

Rehoboth Beach Main Street wins big for its work in the thriving resort.

If you’ve heard Rehoboth Beach is a “Year ’Round Beach Town,” you’re familiar with the work of its Main Street program. Much of the look downtown—from handicapped ramps at the new bandstand to peaked-roof, cottage-style buildings—has been influenced by it.

For its outstanding work, the non-profit was presented the Great American Main Street Award—the industry equivalent of an Oscar. Rehoboth was one of five winners in the country, one of only two on the East Coast.

Executive director Fay Jacobs would like to thank the academy. “We’re proud we made an impression on the national Main Street organization,” she says.

Main Street strives to preserve Rehoboth’s character while creating a thriving commercial area. One example of its influence is a four-year project to make the town pedestrian friendly. Main Street even brought back July 4 fireworks after a 15-year hiatus. The organization’s interest in architecture and working with local government and businesses has helped the resort develop its personality. For example, old cottages now house restaurants such as the Purple Parrot and Finbar’s. The Pig + Fish now occupies the old Rehoboth Schoolhouse.

“Bringing economic development to the heart of commercial areas of a town gives the local economy a boost and sets up a reason for people to come to that town,” Jacobs says. “We’re coming up with the town’s personality.”

 —Drew Ostroski
 

 Page 9: Biden Time | A monthly review of the veep.

 

Biden Time

A monthly review of the veep.

Jimmy Fallon on Joe at the beer summit: “Obama wanted Bud Light, Crowley wanted Blue Moon, Gates wanted a Red Stripe and Joe Biden wanted whatever fits in his beer helmet.” For the record, Joe sipped a non-alcoholic brew—sans helmet.

Big news from Entertainment Tonight: The First Lady and the veep fly into Andrews Air Force Base, bumping the stars of “G.I. Joe” to another airport. We just thought you should know.

Just hours after a Blue Rocks’ promotional giveaway, a Biden Bobblehead collectible was being hawked on Delaware Craigslist for $30. Sellers on eBay were asking $100. We can only shake our heads.

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