Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral to benefit American Red Cross


The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral has chosen the American Red Cross of Delmarva as the beneficiary of funds to be raised at its Sept. 4 Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral Silent Auction.

The 2015 Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral will be celebrated on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 7, with activities beginning about 5:30 p.m. at the north end of the Bethany Beach boardwalk. The event is a celebration at the end of the summer to “bid a fond farewell” to the traditional summer season.

At the Jazz Funeral, spectators go to the boardwalk on Labor Day and can join the funeral procession of mourners accompanied by Dixieland bands. Mourners will carry a casket with a mannequin representing “Summer of 2015” to its final resting place at the boardwalk bandstand.

The family-friendly event is free to the public, according to Carolyn Bacon and Marie Wright, the assistant chairpersons of this year’s Jazz Funeral events.

For the past 10 years, the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral has also hosted the Jazz Funeral Silent Auction to benefit a charity. This year, the Jazz Funeral Silent Auction will be held on Friday, Sept. 4, from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. at Bethany Blues restaurant to honor the Red Cross.

The goal of the Jazz Funeral fundraising activities this year will be to help the American Red Cross of Delmarva, who assists the residents of the local communities with emergency and preventive services, according to Wright.

“The Red Cross responds 24 hours a day to help local families who have been affected by a disaster, military families who have an emergency and need to communicate with their loved one, and many other instances,” Wright said. “They also teach their neighbors lifesaving skills, such as first aid, CPR and water safety, in addition to providing disaster preparedness tips and trainings. All this would not be possible without valuable contributions of talent, time and donations from the local community.”

Wright herself is a certified Red Cross volunteer.

“For more than 100 years, the Red Cross has partnered with the local community, and now serves more than 1.4 million people throughout Delaware, Maryland’s Eastern Shore and two counties on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,” Wright said. “The Red Cross encourages residents to utilize Red Cross tools and trainings in order to make the community one of the safest places to live, work and raise a family.”

Executive Director Patrick K. Delaney of the American Red Cross of Delmarva gave a recent example of Red Cross involvement in the local area.

“The Red Cross recently launched a nationwide preparedness endeavor called the Home Fire Campaign,” said Delaney. “The goal of the campaign is to lower the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent nationwide over the next five years. Here locally, we have held canvassing events where we offer free smoke alarms to high fire-risk communities and also hand out fire-preparedness educational materials.”

Raising funds for the Red Cross is not new for the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral. The 2005 Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral was dedicated to the work performed by members of the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross was also the beneficiary of funds in 2011.

Delaney said he looks forward to once again working with the Jazz Funeral.

“The Jazz Funeral receives strong support from the community each and every year,” Delaney said. “We are proud to partner with them to not only raise funds, but also awareness for Red Cross services, classes and volunteer opportunities.”

So far this fiscal year, the American Red Cross of Delmarva has responded to 208 disaster incidents, assisted 329 families and provided trainings to more than 7,000 people.

“Red Cross has been and continues to be very busy with its humanitarian work,” said Delaney. “We have helped many people this year, whether it is down the street, across the nation or around the world. All the monies raised at this event will go to help those who experienced local disasters, such as home fires, flooding and more.”

The American Red Cross of Delmarva can be reached at (302) 656-6620 or online at www.redcross.org/delmarva.

“There are times when people forget the scope of the Red Cross and its commitment to providing emergency services 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Delaney said.

“As Red Cross recovery operations continue in flooded and tornado-devastated neighborhoods throughout the South and Midwest, hundreds of workers have been mobilized to help people, include a few volunteers from our area who have been deployed to Texas.”

In addition, the American Red Cross organization has affiliates in the Gulf region including New Orleans, the home of the original jazz funerals. For the past 10 years, the local Jazz Funeral has been dedicated to those impacted by the lingering aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, especially the residents of New Orleans, according to Bacon.

“Since New Orleans experienced so much devastation from Hurricane Katrina and since the recovery process in New Orleans still continues to this day, our lighthearted Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral celebration is meant to show respect and admiration for the Jazz Funeral tradition that was born in the Big Easy,” Bacon said.

Anyone who wishes to volunteer to help out with the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral or the Silent Auction is being asked to email jazzfuneral@comcast.net, call to leave a message at (302) 537-1585 or drop a line to P.O. Box 505, Bethany Beach, DE 19930. An overview of the event can be viewed at jazzfuneral.net.