Labor Day weekend.
Those three words alone can generate a plethora of emotions across the board. They actually work together to constitute one word in our reality, joining “Memorial Day weekend” and “Fourth of July” as the sacred trinity of important summer benchmarks for our community — the beginning, the heart and the end of another summer season.
For many in the region, Labor Day signifies the end of traffic congestion, long waits at stores and beaches with seemingly more people than sand. It’s especially welcomed by many of the retirees in the community, who simply want the area to get back to the quiet place it is for the majority of the year.
For others, particularly those who own businesses, it means the end of the profitable season and, in some cases, serves as the final bell for the work year, as they will clean everything up, lock up the doors and spend the next several months catching up on sleep and basic mental health until the next busy season comes along.
And, for others, it means that this is the last weekend before the kids go back to school next week and mom and dad can break out the party favors, turn the television off the children’s programming and enjoy a little sanity.
And that is how it’s been historically for our area. The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is the ultimate reminder of that, as people gather downtown each year on Labor Day to bid farewell to another summer season, and celebrate it with a mixture of relief and sadness. There was a time when one could go outside that Monday evening and feel as if he or she stepped through to another dimension — one of silence and emptiness that would best be narrated by the voice of Rod Serling.
But it’s changed. And it’s changed for the better, in my opinion.
For starters, we have more people living here year-round these days. From retirees enjoying a new chapter in their lives, to families with small children who choose to take advantage of our schools and quiet lifestyle, the area is becoming less of a destination and more of an arrival. This is now home for many, and that contributes to more businesses staying open throughout the year, and more activities taking place to keep us all interested.
We’ve also come to really take advantage of the “shoulder seasons” over recent years — those weeks after Labor Day and before Memorial Day when the weather feels like summer. It is a great time for golf courses, as golfers can now get accomodations that might have been booked during the busy summer season, and a fantastic time for restaurants and shops to open for at least the weekends as events like the Boardwalk Arts Festival and others dot the calendar throughout the fall and spring.
It is also the time for home owners who might rent out their units through the lucrative summer months to actually come enjoy their homes for themselves. They can still visit the beach, enjoy great restaurants and just generally take a breath from life for a few days, and that’s simply a good thing.
While “Labor Day” brings a near-Pavolovian reaction to many of us, signifying the end of the year’s fun, it really isn’t anymore. In reality, many of us believe this to be the best time of the year. Count me in that category.
For instance, this is when I will start camping nearly every weekend for the next few months. Be it a one-night trip to Trap Pond on a Saturday or an extended weekend away somewhere else, it is a terrific time to go enjoy being outdoors with slightly smaller crowds around the campgrounds. There will also be Sunday trips to the drive-on beach, enjoying relaxing days with friends and still-warm weather without the stress of busy summer workloads stunting the enjoyment factor.
I can also finally break out that rhinestone-studded thong I’ve been tempted to wear all summer, but have been too self-conscious to display, outside of sitting around the house or walking through our office on casual Friday. Granted, it’s a little garish and often conflicts with the diamond-encrusted one that Tom Maglio wears all too often, but now is not the time to go there. Actually, I’m not really sure there is an appropriate time for that, so let’s just forget I ever mentioned it.
Good luck with that.
The shoulder season is the best season, in my humble opinion, particularly in the fall. College football on Saturdays, the NFL on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and whatever other day they care to dominate, and the food that comes with watching football, ranging from wings to ribs to sausages grilling over hot coals and juices dripping down to make that “hiss” sound as they expand from the heat and blossom into that tasty...
But I digress.
This weekend is truly not the end. It has been a constant source of amusement for us here that the smallest our Calendar section in every year is the summer, while fall and spring are jammed with events and activities. It’s as if we come out of our collective coccoons to spread our wings, and any other ridiculous metaphors you might be able to muster.
Say goodbye to the Summer of 2014, and all that goes with it. But, while you’re doing that, say hello to the Fall of 2014. It promises to be a great one.