Labor Day is just the beginning of the fun

Labor. Day. Weekend. Those are three words that carry significant weight in our little slice of heaven by the shore.

For local businesses, it means that the unofficial busy season is coming to an end. Many of the younger employees are wrapping up their working tenure, if they haven’t already, to move back into college dorm rooms and start spending their summer income one pizza at a time. Family vacations begin taking shape, as the 60-hour work weeks are coming to a close, and it’s time to get the family back on the same page. Of course, it also means that it’s time to take a second look at the old family budget, as income is expected to take on a sleeker feel for the next several months.

For many other local people, it means “taking back control” of the roads and beaches. A lot of people in the area pseudo-hibernate over the summer months, as the large crowds mean congested roads, scant available real estate on the beaches and longer lines in the area’s remarkable restaurants. The “shoulder seasons” of fall and spring allow the local people more freedom to get out and about and still enjoy stellar weather in the process.

Of course, Labor Day weekend doesn’t quite have the same caché it did in years past. We don’t exactly “roll up the sidewalks” and shut down after the holiday anymore, and weekends in September can often appear just as busy as a weekend in July. There are festivals and events taking place nearly every weekend for the next six weeks or so, and second-homeowners, who have maybe been renting out their beach houses for the summer, now get to come down and enjoy their places for a long weekend or family get-togethers.

Yes, things do slow down a little bit. But not by much. At least not for a while.

The year-round population of the community continues to swell, and we are seeing more young families than ever calling this area “home.” Retirees continue to reward themselves for decades of hard work by moving to our area full time, and we consistently see more people who grew up in the community return home to raise their own families after exploring options and maybe chasing an education elsewhere.

Of course, that’s just me mentally meandering down a different path altogether from where I started. Again. This was meant to be a discussion on the changes that happen after Labor Day, and instead it morphed into a statement on the changing dynamics of the population that inhabits this place full-time. I mean, I could have just as easily taken this into the direction of discussing how McDonald’s will soon be serving breakfast all day long, and it won’t be surprising to anybody who knows me to see bits of hash browns clinging to my chin at 2 p.m. or to detect the feint aroma of McGriddle emanating from...

But I digress.

Where was I? Right! Labor Day! It really doesn’t have that same air of finality to it that it used to, right? The annual Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is a great reminder of how the holiday marks the final chapter of each year’s busy season, and if you haven’t been to it yet I highly recommend it. But the event is now more of a tradition and reminder of the past than a statement on what happens now.

The wounded warriors will soon be making their way to our community for the Operation SEAs the Day celebration of our brave troops. The Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival will be taking center stage next weekend. There will be various fall festivals and celebrations in different towns throughout September.

Things don’t stop anymore around here at Labor Day — they just take on more of a weekend schedule throughout the fall.

And thus begins my favorite time of the year.

Fall, to me, means getting out to more of our shops and restaurants, camping at some of the area’s great campgrounds and smoking meat for hours on end for Sunday football. It means sneaking out for some quiet time on the beach, getting home before my daughter’s bedtime one or two times more a week and hitting James Farm for a quiet walk with the dogs.

It means running into friends and neighbors at the store, convincing Shaun Lambert that he has even the slightest of chances of beating me in fantasy football, just so he can be devasted when it doesn’t happen, and spending that extra minute talking with someone in the parking lot because I’m not running around like my hair’s on fire (sometimes I just feed you people opportunities to insult my chrome-like head).

It means the leaves changing colors and making that awesome crunching sound with every step, rockfish being the daily special at a lot of our restaurants and scouring the community looking for that perfect Halloween pumpkin. It means having to get out those light sweaters from the storage bins for when the air cools down at night, and putting away the thongs that comprise so much of my summer wardrobe.

I really hope you weren’t eating while you read that last line.

So, yes, Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end to another season at our coastal paradise, but it’s the also the beginning of the best season of all.