Jazz funeral and end-of-season tradition


Labor Day weekend has long been considered the end of the summer season around here, and no event better captures that feeling than the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral. The event started more than 25 years ago, as Bethany Beach entrepreneur Moss Wagner created a little event for the locals to celebrate the end of the summer season.

“Obviously, things were a little different umpteen years ago,” said funeral chairman Paul Jankovic. “Bethany was a dry town. All things considered, events like the Fourth of July parade and the Jazz Funeral were a big thing. Things were more seasonal, based on the kids going back to school. There were fewer housing units than there are today, of course. There wasn’t really an opportunity to celebrate the off-season as people do now.”

And celebrate they do.

The event takes place on Monday, Sept. 4, at 5:30 p.m., and revelers will gather at the Bethany Beach Boardwalk to bid farewell to Summer 2011. There will be a mock jazz funeral procession “burying” the summer, and visitors will be decked out in outlandish attire while Dixieland music fills the air. In short, it’s a lot of fun.

But this has become more than just fun. It’s also about giving back to the community.

The planners of the event will hold a silent auction on Friday, Sept. 2, at Bethany Blues from 3 to 5 p.m. to raise funds for the American Red Cross of Delmarva. The group has a strong connection to New Orleans because of the link of the Jazz Funeral, and they chose to benefit the Red Cross because of their efforts to help those affected by Katrina in 2005.

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We would like to send our thoughts to Bethany Beach Police Chief Michael Redmon, who was injured on a bicicle ride near Fenwick Island on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

According to Bethany Beach Town Manager Cliff Graviet, Redmon collided with another bicyclist and fell into a ditch. As a result of the fall, Redmon broke seven ribs and his collarbone, and apparently bruised a lung. He was transported to Christiana Hospital for treatment.

We wish him a full and speedy recovery.