A group of local residents are preparing to celebrate what they said they believe will be “one of the best summer seasons ever” with their annual end-of-season “fun” event. Locals and summer residents celebrate the end of the Bethany Beach summer resort season with their annual Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral, to be held this year on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 3, around 5:30 p.m.
The Jazz Funeral is designed to be a lighthearted celebration that allows all those who attend to participate and become part of a “just for fun” boardwalk parade and is free to the public, according to Carolyn Bacon and Marie Wright, the assistant chairpersons of this year’s Jazz Funeral events.
At the Jazz Funeral, spectators go to the Bethany Beach boardwalk on Labor Day Monday and can join the funeral procession of mourners. Mourners will carry a casket with a mannequin representing “Summer of 2018” from the north end of the boardwalk to its final resting place at the boardwalk bandstand. Music is provided by the combined efforts of three Dixieland jazz bands, according to Bacon.
“The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is comparable to the jazz funerals that are held in New Orleans that celebrate the lives of those who have passed away,” Bacon said. “In Bethany Beach, the Jazz Funeral is celebrated each Labor Day to mark the passing of the summer resort season in Delaware’s Quiet Resorts.”
Part of the Jazz Funeral festivities will be a series of brief reflections and recollections by Bethany residents after the procession arrives at the bandstand. This year’s remarks will highlight the lighter side of resort living in the Quiet Resorts, according to Wright.
“The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is now in its 33rd year, and from the very beginning, our event was designed to be a ‘fun’ event,” Wright said. “We want to celebrate the dedication and the hard work performed by our visiting summer locals and our true local family members who live, work and raise their families in the Quiet Resorts. We want to take the opportunity to celebrate the lighter side of enjoying the summer in our resort areas.”
The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral will feature three bands — the Dixie Cats, the Jazz Funeral Irregulars and the Downtown Dixieland Band. The combined bands usually have about 18 pieces, which makes the event one of the largest regularly scheduled Dixieland band performances on the Delmarva Peninsula.
The Jazz Funeral has become a “quirky” tradition in Bethany Beach enjoyed by about 2,000 people each year.
The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral Silent Auction is held on the Friday afternoon before Labor Day as a kickoff to the Labor Day weekend. This year’s Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral Silent Auction is on Friday, Aug. 31, beginning at 3 p.m. All of the silent auctions have been held at Bethany Blues at 6 North Pennsylvania Avenue in Bethany Beach. The beneficiary for funds raised at the silent auction this year is yet to be named.
There are five organizations being considered as beneficiary for the 2018 Silent Auction. They include the American Red Cross, Sussex County Big Brothers Big Sisters, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, the American Cancer Society and their Relay For Life program, and the Delaware Audubon Society, along with the Chesapeake Audubon Society.
Anyone who wishes to volunteer to help out with the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral or the Silent Auction can email firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 jazz-funeral.com.