[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/06/art.bidenreturnday.cnn.jpg caption="Vice President-elect Joe Biden rides in a horse drawn carriage during Delaware’s Return Day."]
GEORGETOWN, Delaware (CNN) – Wearing a long dark coat to keep the cold rain off of him, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill rode around the streets of this small town in their home state Thursday afternoon in a white horse-drawn carriage as part of the biennial 200 year-old Delaware tradition known as ‘Return Day.’
“Thank you!” Biden repeatedly called out to the cheering crowds as he drove past, ducking in and out of the carriage to wave to voters who on Tuesday elected the Delaware senator to his seventh term in the U.S. Senate. (Deleware's governor will soon name a replacement Biden.)
“No matter what office I hold, I’m still Delaware,” Biden later said to loud cheers from the shivering masses in front of Georgetown’s courthouse. “There was Joe the plumber, well, I’m Joe from Delaware. And folks, it’s been an honor, it’s been a great honor representing you as a United States Senator since the first time I stood on this platform…”
“The bad news for you is Jill and I are not leaving Delaware,” he continued. “I may be the Vice President-elect but we’re going to be home every weekend so you know where we live.
“I’m still at this moment – and continue to be – Senator Joe Biden, the proudest title I’ve ever had, representing the state of Delaware,” he added. “I love you, thank you very, very, very, very much.”
Biden stood for two hours at the front of a review stand watching floats, marching bands and cars carrying past and current elected officials go by, chatting all the while with his wife and longtime friend Rep. Mike Castle.
“This is the coolest event in the entire United States of America,” Biden told a small group of reporters on the flight to Delaware Thursday morning, proceeding to spend the bulk of a 40-minute chat at the back of the plane recounting the history of the day and discussing state politics.
Return Day culminates with Republican and Democratic Party representatives jointly burying a tomahawk from the Nanticoke Indian tribe in a glass aquarium full of sand from Delaware’s Lewis Beach. The bi-partisan tradition is meant to symbolize the end of hard-fought campaigns.
The candidates from the state's races are also meant ride in the carriages together in a show of unity, the victor facing forward, the loser backwards. However, Biden’s Republican opponent, Christine O’Donnell, appeared to not have gotten the memo, leaving Biden alone in his carriage with Mrs. Biden,
Asked where O'Donnell was, Biden pointed to the carriage seat in front of him and told CNN, "I don't know, she was supposed to be here." Biden staffers said they did see her at the event but it is unclear why she didn’t join the Delaware senator in his carriage.
The future vice president's schedule forced him to leave before the actual burying of the hatchet, he is now back in Chicago and will hold a press conference with President-elect Obama on Friday, their first since winning the election.