The casket is carried through the streets on its trek to the cemetery, followed by a trail of weeping mourners, mostly women wearing black and carrying parasols and doing a Cajun shuffle. Live musicians play jazz tunes as the procession steps its way to the final resting place. It is definitely a celebration of life and a fancy send-off.
Well, today, in Bethany Beach, Delaware, you can witness just such a funeral procession. At 5:30 p.m., the 24th Annual Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral will begin its procession at the north end of the Boardwalk. Flying in the face of its reputation as "The Quiet Resort," Bethany is sending the summer off in a loud and raucous fashion as beach goers enjoy just a bit more fun in the final hours of the summer of 2009.
The procession will include weeping women in black, shuffling to a jazz beat as they follow a coffin and a tombstone. The epitaph on that stone reads: "R.I.P. dear friend summer 2009. Born: 25 May. Died: 7 Sept." Several Dixieland string bands will follow the mourners in the procession.
The public is encouraged to fall in behind the bands as the procession moves to summer's final resting place at the Boardwalk Bandstand. Everyone is then encouraged to enjoy the remaining evening by frequenting local restaurants and businesses. (Traditionally, many businesses either close for the season or drastically curtail their hours after Labor Day. many will only open for weekends through September and then close until April or May of 2010.)
Some of those who have spent the major portion of their summer in Bethany, will hold private "wakes" this afternoon before heading up to the Boardwalk to join the procession.
A few years ago, organizers added a "new" feature to the event, a silent auction to benefit a different charity each year. This year's auction, held Friday at Bethany Blues benefited Habitat for Humanity of Sussex County. Auction items included restaurant gift certificates, wine, gift baskets and more.
So, if you are in the area this afternoon, truck on up to the Boardwalk and join the funeral procession.
I, personally, refuse to acknowledge the end of summer until we experience frost ! We're still planning our beach vacation for later this month.