Jazz Funeral 2018 Casket

Every Labor Day, the the Jazz Funeral bids farewell to summertime with a parade of music, mourners and an effigy of summer, shown here in 2018 at at Bethany Beach Boardwalk.

It is in the best interest of those who visit Bethany Beach, and those who live in the greater Quiet Resorts area, that the 2020 Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral scheduled for Labor Day Monday, Sept. 7, be postponed until next year due to the continuing spread and the contagious nature of the COVID-19 virus.

The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is a lighthearted celebration that allows all attendees to participate in a fun boardwalk parade. The event is held each Labor Day Monday as a celebration at the end of the summer to “bid a fond farewell” to the traditional summer season. The evening Jazz Funeral features a procession of mourners who carry a casket with a mannequin representing “Summer” from the north end of the Boardwalk to its final resting place at the Boardwalk Bandstand. Entertainment is provided by the combination of three New Orleans-style Dixieland bands. This is followed by a short concert of Dixieland Jazz Music by the group of talented jazz musicians.

Our sincere thanks go to all those who have volunteered to help make the Jazz Funeral a fun family celebration on the Bethany Boardwalk for the past 35 years.

A special thanks goes to the members of the three bands that pleased so many Jazz Funeral enthusiasts over the years. The bandstand features music by the Dixie Cats, Jazz Funeral Irregulars and the Downtown Dixieland Band from Milford.

This once-a-year fun-filled event regularly attracts 1600-2000 people. This is the first time the Jazz Funeral has been cancelled in its 35-year history.

Jazz Funeral 2018 Mourner

Every Labor Day, the the Jazz Funeral bids farewell to summertime with a tongue-in-cheek parade of music and mourners at Bethany Beach Boardwalk, shown here in 2018.

We humbly believe that the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral and Silent Auction are a very small part of the overall success of our Quiet Resorts communities. For the past 35 years our small Labor Day celebration is meant to say “Thank You” to all who have participated in helping serve those who visit us during the summer season. We also invite our guests and participants to visit the Quiet Resorts again during the fall, winter and spring.

A very significant element is the fact that the Jazz Funeral is allowed to hold its own light-hearted celebration by those who govern the Town of Bethany Beach.

Few small towns in America would extend the hand of help and friendship to an unaffiliated community group like ours. One of the unrecognized strengths of Bethany Beach is the cooperation extended by the leadership of the Town of Bethany Beach that reached out to provide help and assistance to a small group like ours. We thank Town Manager Cliff Graviet and Public Relations Director Julie Malewski. The use of the Boardwalk and the Bandstand help make our Jazz Funeral a “True Bethany Beach Experience.” Part of that help comes from the Bethany Police, the grounds crew, the public relations office and other departments to allow us to present our small piece of fun and entertainment each Labor Day.

Two important jazz funeral organizers were also former members of the Bethany Beach Town Council. The Jazz Funeral was founded by former council member Moss Wagner in 1985, and former council member Debbie Reilly helped with Funeral financial matters for many years.

The charitable arm of the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is the Silent Auction. For 15 years this fund-raising event has been held at Bethany Blues Restaurant on the Friday afternoon before the Labor Day as a kick-off to the season’s last hurrah. At the Silent Auction, 100 percent of the funds raised goes directly to the designated charity.

Bethany Blues owner Jim Weisgerber has hosted this charitable event from the very beginning. The Silent Auction at Bethany Blues is one of the longest-running regularly-scheduled charitable events on the entire coast. Through Jim’s dedication, the Jazz Funeral raised significant fund for five different charities. Our sincere thanks goes out to Jim and his staff at Bethany Blues.

The beneficiaries of Jazz Funeral Silent Auction funds include Habitat for Humanity of Sussex County; the American Red Cross of Sussex County; the American Cancer Society and their Relay For Life program; the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization; and the Delaware Audubon Society and the Chesapeake Audubon Society.

Many restaurants and dining spots participated to donate gift certificates to raise funds for five charities. These included Sedona, the Boathouse, Nantucket’s, Twining’s Lobster Shanty, Mango’s, the Salted Rim, the Brick Hotel and Restaurant, the Penguin Diner, the Crab Bag, Armand’s Pizza, Patsy’s Restaurant, the Greene Turtle, the Café on 26, Bethany Diner, Fox Pizza, Grotto Pizza, Maureen’s Ice Cream, PIE Restaurant, Cottage Café, Harpoon Hanna’s, Ropewalk Bethany, Turtle Beach Café, NorthEast Seafood Kitchen, The Big Chill Beach Club, Poppa John’s Pizza, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Mancini's Restaurant, Baja Beach House Grill, DiFebo's Restaurant, 99 Sea Level, Bonkey Ice Cream, Bennett Orchards, the Blue Crab, Fat Tuna, Bethany Blues, Parkway Restaurant, Bethany Boardwalk Café, Nick’s House of Ribs, McCabe's Gourmet Market, D.B. Fries, Big Fish Restaurant, Fisher's Popcorn, Steamers, Bethany Diner, Dickens Parlor Theatre, Candy Kitchens, Salted Vines Vineyard & Winery, and many others.

The Jazz Funeral events are also made possible by the generosity of these local businesses and participants that provided health services, beauty articles and general merchandise that were gifts for the Silent Auction to raise funds for the charities of the Jazz Funeral. These include Bear Trap Dunes, Tidepool Toys & Games, the Yoga Center of Bethany Beach, Bethany Beach Books, Fenwick Float-Ors, Crazy Ladies, Bethany Flowers, Millville Pet Shop, Bear Trap Dunes Golf Club, The Rookery Golf Club, Old Pro Golf, Good Earth Market, Drifting Grounds Coffee House, Paradise Gifts, Treasure Island Fashions, Elaine the Artist, Yesterday’s Toys and Games, the UPS Store, Miller’s Creek Furniture, Fenwick Hardware, Casino Electronics, Ocean View Rent-All Equipment Center, Sea Level, Christy’s Keepsakes, Tropicana, Windsor Teak Furniture, Nassau Winery, Beach Liquors, Connors Liquors, White Marlin Mall, Studio 26 Salon & Spa, Lighthouse Liquors, Garfield 10 Mini Golf, Old Pro Golf, Captain Jack’s Pirate Golf, Brasure’s Carpet Care, Hocker’s Car Wash, Sweet Disposition Dessert Co., Clarksville Goodyear Service, Burbage Properties, Instream Energy Recovery Systems, Dave's Surplus and Treasure Hunt, East Coast Promotion & Research Group, Shore Fun Amusements, Town of Bethany Beach, Freaky Tiki Teez, Yuppy Puppy Boutique, All About You, Bethany Trading Company, Diamond State Photography, Fern Eisner Photography, Studio Eight Photography, Ocean City Advertising Agency, Michael Orhelein, TKO Designs, Silver Stockpile, Coronado Jewelers, JJ Stones, The Addy Sea and Bethany Beach Ocean Suites.

In addition, the Jazz Funeral received much-needed help from Jack Burbage, Patsy and Kirk Rankin, Frank Hanna Sr., WBOC-TV, WMDT-TV, WRDE-TV, WGMD-FM, WDEL-AM, and the editors and publishers of Coastal Point newspaper, the Cape Gazette, the Wave newspaper, the Beachcomber, Southern Delaware Explorer, the Beach Paper, the Salisbury Times, Maryland Coast Dispatch, Ocean City Today, Bayside Gazette and other news media.

We will miss bringing people together as the summer fades and fall starts to kick in. We enjoy making people laugh, smile and sing along as we celebrate the end of the summer season with them each year. Please look for us next year so we can all celebrate together once again with “Sister” Marie Wright, Headstone-bearer Carolyn Bacon, Musical Director John Strawley, Stage Manager Dave Rickards, Second Line Leader Marilyn Panagopoulos, the Undertaker, Emcee Deluxe Liane Hansen and all the others.

While this Labor Day Weekend will not be the same without the Jazz Funeral and the Silent Auction, we believe it is best to err on the side of safety than to risk having just one person possibly testing positive to this virus.

We look forward to the time when we can all celebrate the Jazz Funeral and the Silent Auction in a safe and virus-free atmosphere.

Those who are interested in helping out for the 2021 version of the Jazz Funeral can contact the Jazz Funeral at P.O. Box 505, Bethany Beach DE 19930, email jazzfuneral@comcast.net, or leave a message at (302) 537-1585. Please check out our site at www.jazz-funeral.com.