Fenwick bonfire lights up the night

They came by twos and threes, fives and sixes, as the sun set over homes in Fenwick Island on Saturday, July 1. In groups large and small, residents and visitors to the coastal town headed to the sands, though the day’s spectacular beach weather was being capped by nightfall.

For Saturday was the night of the annual Fenwick Island Town Bonfire, and the flames were already beginning to build by the time the fun and games got under way shortly after 7 p.m.

The kids kicked things off with a classic relay, rushing across the sand with cups of water to fill larger containers. They would repeat the trek later, tied to older siblings and parents in the three-legged race. And they’d tackle it yet again, with swim flippers on their feet — backwards.

With final logs chucked onto the large fire built by the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol, the bonfire was declared officially open for marshmallow roasting. The borders of the sand pit were soon filled with children and adults as they sought to toast a marshmallow or two without charring themselves in the process. (Those best prepared brought sticks up to 6 feet in length.)

Music competed with the sound of the pounding ocean, as the DJ provided a variety of party music for the gathering, making promises that the beach patrol members would soon lead the bonfire attendees in a line dance.

Indeed, the lifeguards had practiced the “Cha Cha Slide” earlier in the afternoon, preparing for their role as dance teachers. In the meantime, there was a “Twizzlers relay” for those of all ages.

Soon, it was time to acknowledge the Independence Day weekend, as the group worked to build a human replica of the United States flag, to the accompaniment of music by Bruce Springsteen.

Throughout the night, beach patrol members sold T-shirts, aiming to raise funds for their programs. Children were offered glow sticks to help light up the night. Sandcastles were built and waves dodged. Footballs were thrown, beach balls tossed. Feet were buried in the sand and small, sleeping heads in the shoulders of their parents.

Once again, dozens of families and friends had gathered on Fenwick Island’s beach for the holiday weekend, marking another successful year for the casual family event in the small coastal town.