Ches. City hon­ors du Pont legacy with procla­ma­tion

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JACOB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— On Mon­day night, the town of­fi­cially rec­og­nized the im­pact of du Pont fam­ily mem­bers, who

CH­E­SA­PEAKE CITY

have long been a fix­ture within the water­front town, par­tic­u­larly in the mid-20th cen­tury as Al­laire and Richard du Pont helped jump­start a re­vi­tal­iza­tion of the his­toric town.

De­spite com­ing from the well-known fam­ily, Al­laire and Richard carved out a lo­cal re­la­tion­ship with the town. The pair could often be seen fly­ing air­planes over the town — and the leg­end goes that Al­laire, an ex­pert pi­lot, once flew un­der the Ch­e­sa­peake City Bridge.

Af­ter Richard’s death, Al­laire be­came even more in­volved in the town and the eques­trian life­style, fa­mously rais­ing the thor­ough­bred race­horse Kelso, a five-time Horse of the Year win­ner in the 1960s that won 39 life­time races. She was fre­quently seen walk­ing Ch­e­sa­peake City’s streets with her dog, Tank, and in­vested heav­ily in the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of the town in the 1980s, buy­ing and restor­ing South Ch­e­sa­peake City’s old tav­erns and canal houses, in­clud­ing what is to­day the Ba­yard House.

Car­ry­ing on her par­ents’ ef­forts to­day is He­lena “Lana” du Pont Wright, owner of Uni­corn Farm & Sta­bles south of town, who is renowned for her im­pact of eques­trian sports. In Jan­uary, she re­ceived the U.S. Eques­trian Fed­er­a­tion Life­time Achieve­ment Award for her decades-long ca­reer in horse rac­ing.

Wright is cred­ited with help­ing to break the gen­der bar­rier at the Olympics, be­com­ing the first woman to com­pete on a U.S. three-day event­ing team at the 1964 Olympics in Ja­pan, earn­ing the sil­ver medal. Later, she won the team gold medal at the 1991 Paris Driv­ing World Cham­pi­onships in Aus­tria.

She has also fo­cused her at­ten­tion on en­durance rac­ing — some­thing she’s had a pas­sion for since she was a young girl, com­plet­ing a three-day, 100-mile trail ride on horse­back af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school “for fun.” Wright also com­bined her love of eques­trian sports’ many dis­ci­plines by help­ing run Fair Hill In­ter­na­tional, which, based in Ce­cil County, is one of the premier Amer­i­can com­pe­ti­tions, for many years.

Af­ter rec­og­niz­ing Wright and her par­ents’ con­tri­bu­tions to the town, Ch­e­sa­peake City Mayor Dean Geraci­mos de­clared May 9 to be “Lana du Pont Wright Day” by procla­ma­tion.

“The en­tire du Pont fam­ily has al­ways been such an un­be­liev­able fix­ture here in Ch­e­sa­peake City for years,” he said. “They were re­ally the sav­ior of the town in the 1980s and have been an un­be­liev­ably gra­cious fam­ily from Day One.”

Geraci­mos also said that the town hopes to one day better pro­mote the ef­forts by the du Ponts in a mu­seum set­ting. With plans to build a new Ch­e­sa­peake City Ele­men­tary School off Route 213, town of­fi­cials have dis­cussed us­ing the ex­ist­ing school as a new town hall and mu­seum, he said.

“We would ab­so­lutely have a du Pont room in such a mu­seum,” he added.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

Ch­e­sa­peake City Mayor Dean Geraci­mos (right) poses with Lana du Pont Wright (cen­ter) and her fam­ily af­ter pro­claim­ing Mon­day as “Lana du Pont Wright Day.”

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