Old Fenwick Island Days turning back time

Fenwick Island is about to go back – back to when the Blue Sands Motel was Tingle’s Motel, back when Sea Shell City was simply Ruth’s Shell Shop, back when the Ric-Mar Motel and Seaside Country Store were the new places in town and Warren’s Station, the Lighthouse Diner and Libby’s were the only places to grab a bite. Yep, Old Fenwick Island Days is coming back to town.

Last year, the inaugural Old Fenwick Island Days opened a window back in time to when Route 1 was a dusty road, when beach houses were sporadic and a walk to Dairy Queen or Clark’s was inevitable.

The inaugural celebration, created by Fenwick Island’s Cultural and Historic Resource Sub-Committee, was a week long and coincided with the 150th anniversary of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. This year, Old Fenwick Island Day will be abbreviated to one day only, set for Aug. 11, and will focus on the businesses in the town’s history.

“All of the people who grew up here have so many wonderful memories of Fenwick Island,” stated Dr. Kimberly Grimes, a member of the sub-committee. “This area means a lot to us all, and the stories you hear about are just incredible.”

Since last fall, the sub-committee has been working hard to preserve these memories, stories, postcards, advertisements and photographs for the second installment of the annual event. In addition, due to an overwhelming amount of public suggestions, a guided tour around town will be taking place, as well, in efforts to inform those stopping by for Old Fenwick Island Days of the rich history that many in the community still hang onto today.

“Last year,” said Grimes, “we offered a self-guided tour, and had people at the different spots to stop at, sharing the memories of what it was like, growing up.”

As she noted, many people sell Fenwick Island short as “that town next to Ocean City.”

“Fenwick is one of the oldest communities in the area because of the lighthouse,” she said. “Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t pay much attention on their way through town. Back in the day, it wasn’t just Fenwick Island beach, either. You had Pittsburgh Beach and Maryland Beach. Ocean City may have built up a little earlier, but the lighthouse here really brought everything together.”

Grimes, an anthropologist, greatly adores preserving the town’s history.

“Growing up here, we were all like family,” she said. “It was a positive and wonderful experience.”

To accompany the local business theme with the town’s colorful past, Warren’s Station will be one of the featured long-running businesses in town, as they celebrate their 50th year this season. More than 2,000 people walked through last year’s exhibit at town hall, and Grimes is hoping for another strong showing.

“This event is still evolving,” she said. “We’d love to have more people join the committee, too. This is one of the best ways we can preserve and share our history.”

The Cultural and Historic Resource Sub-Committee will meet on Tuesday, July 13, at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the details for Old Fenwick Island Days, set to be held on Wednesday, Aug. 11. The public is being encouraged to attend, give their input, and share their photos and memories from the town’s past. For more information, contact the town hall at (302) 539-3011.