When record amounts of water from Tropical Storm Henri ravaged Red Clay Valley, it left six historic bridges destroyed and reduced the 10-mile Wilmington & Western Railroad to a mere two miles. The railroad is no stranger to change—since officially opening for passenger and freight service in 1872, the approximately 20-mile track was gradually shortened before beginning to escort tourists on steam-powered jaunts in 1966. Through all its transformations, the rail has persevered, and its encounter with Tropical Storm Henri was no exception. By June 30, 2007, the track was restored and Royal Blue coaches followed a locomotive 98 for the first 10-mile journey on the track in nearly four years.
These days, Wilmington & Western Railroad's locomotives continue to follow Red Clay Creek on leisurely round-trip jaunts, romantic rides, and themed excursions. After their ride, youngsters can learn about railroading heritage with a series of online games, and individuals or groups can charter a train for subsequent travels to any destination along the line.
Brunswick Zone has been a trusted name in recreational pin pulverizing for more than a century, providing good times to patrons across the country. Friends and families season afternoons with a pleasant peppering of strikes, spares, and easygoing gutter balls under classic bowling conditions, or take the next bold step in ball-hurling evolution and engage in a round of cosmic bowling, where dancing lights, thumping tunes, and black-lit gear light up the full sensorium. At XL locations, game rooms beckon with nimble joystick workouts on classic and modern arcade games.
Owners Eric and Sasha Aber stock their kitchen at Home Grown Café with locally sourced and sustainably produced ingredients when they can. That palate of fresh greens, house-made sauces, and Black Angus beef pairs with eclectic recipes, which have nabbed a slew of awards from Delaware Today, including Best Healthy Fare four of the last five years. Many plates, such as the pad thai with shrimp or shredded chicken tamale turnover, can be converted into filling vegan meals with faux shrimp or seitan. A full gluten-free menu provides options for patrons who have wheat allergies or recently had a tearful falling out with a gingerbread man. The chefs craft sandwiches with proteins including hangar steak or tofu and toppings such as bacon, creole mustard, brie, and chilled duxelle, a rich, buttery sauce of mushrooms.
Beside supporting local farms, the Abers throw their support toward the arts, displaying a rotating cast of local craftspeople on the walls and hosting live music performances four nights a week, including Jazz sets on Sunday.
At Mansion House Paintball, mature trees tower over wooded fields with boughs battered by kaleidoscopic shrapnel. Paintball soldiers dive behind these tree trunks or weave through barrels, wood panels, or cable rungs in all-season, outdoor battle played in rain or sunshine. Individuals can walk on for games during the weekend, and private groups or corporate teams can reserve the fields for parties or retreats to determine who cleans out the corner office’s adjoining stable.
Christy, owner of Rhythm and Fitness, has always struggled with her weight. It wasn’t until she found herself running and walking in a half marathon, instead of cheering from the sidelines as she had intended, that she resolved to transform her body, and through that experience, her life. During her journey to better health, she dropped in on a Zumba class, and the rest was history. Christy fell in love with Zumba; she loved how it made her feel, how she lost weight after every workout, and how much fun it was. She resolved to share her newfound love with others and become a licensed instructor. Christy began teaching classes and ended up with more students than she knew what to do with. From there, Rhythm and Fitness was born.
Today, Christy sports a certification in weight management and nutrition, is working toward her PhD in health psychology, and helms a collection of instructors who lead a variety of fitness classes that focus on making cardio exercise enjoyable. They also teach ZumbAtomic classes for kids and host birthday parties complete with high-energy dancing and choreographed candle blowing.
In 1995, Patty Hillkirk was working as a psychotherapist and dreaming of starting a camp for youth infected or affected by HIV/AIDS that would provide a safe environment for them to express themselves. Camp Dreamcatcher realizes this goal with a weeklong camp session in August where children aged 5–17 can interact with their peers. Campers and counselors may be coping with their own infection or the infection or death of a family member.
During the camp, youth can take part in 80 therapeutic programs, including music and psychotherapy; 35 educational sessions on pertinent topics such as depression and college preparation; and 150 recreational activities, including swimming, a ropes course, and the annual dance and talent show. Throughout the year, Camp Dreamcatcher also runs life-skills and leadership retreats for teenagers, training for counselors, community outreach, and family advocacy, as well as an Adopt-A-Family program during the holidays.