Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral Serves As Summer Tradition

BETHANY BEACH, Del. – On Labor Day weekend, the Town of Bethany Beach, known as a “Quiet Resort,” is unlike any other Atlantic coast beach town. The Bethany Beach Boardwalk is the setting for the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral, one of the county’s most unusual “End of Summer Celebrations.”
The 2012 Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is celebrated on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 3 with activities beginning about 5:30 p.m. at the north end of the Bethany Beach Boardwalk, 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 in a funeral procession of mourners, along with the combined forces of three Dixieland Jazz Bands, that carry a casket with a mannequin representing "Summer of 2012" to its final resting place at the Boardwalk Bandstand. The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is based on the Jazz Funerals held in New Orleans. An overview of the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral can be viewed at a new website,
The Jazz Funeral is held as an “End of Summer Celebration” because the Town of Bethany Beach is one of only a few oceanfront resort communities that can still be described as a “true summer resort,” according to assistant chairperson Bacon.
“Summer resorts like Bethany experience a dramatic up-tick in summer tourism beginning with the Memorial Day weekend and this continues on until Labor Day,” Bacon said. “Because many of the families who vacation in Bethany return home to make sure their children get off to a good start in school, there is a dramatic departure of the summer visitor population after Labor Day weekend. Even though there are lots of interesting Fall activities, after Labor Day the small beach town of Bethany Beach once again becomes a ‘Quiet Resort’.”
In conjunction with this unique summer resort experience, a group of “Summer’s friends” celebrate the end of the season with a jazz funeral that is nearly the same as if one was attending a New Orleans Jazz Funeral. 
Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is now in its 27th year and each Labor Day in the “Quiet Resort” is also an opportunity to give thanks.
“This Labor Day weekend is our time to thank all those who have visited with us during the Summer of 2012 and encourage them to return again in 2013,” said the assistant chairperson. “The Jazz Funeral events are dedicated to both locals and visitors. It is meant to be a universal end-of-season celebration of thanks and the kick off to a vibrant fall season.”
The actual start of the “End of Summer Celebration” is a silent auction held to raise funds for charity. 
The charity kick-off event for the Labor Day weekend and the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral events is the Silent Auction held on Friday Sept. 3 at 3 p.m. at Bethany Blues Restaurant. All funds raised by the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral Silent Auction on Sept. 3 go directly to the American Cancer Society and its Relay For Life® program. 
After funds are raised on Friday to support the Cancer Society, organizers of the Jazz Funeral encourage families to check out the end-of-season sales held by many local retailers.
“Not only will you have an enjoyable weekend, there are shopping opportunities as many Bethany Beach merchants offer end-of-season and back-to-school discounts,” Bacon said. “You can have a great time and save money too.”
Many locals and summer visitors view the 27th Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral as the capstone event of the 2012 summer season, according to Bacon.
“For the past 27 summer seasons, the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral has been held to celebrate the season’s end and to help the local residents ease back to the slower pace of off-season living,” Bacon said. “It is one last chance to celebrate the final moments of the summer season with an event that is marked by music, humor and good fellowship. The Jazz Funeral has become a ‘quirky’ Bethany Beach tradition and all are welcomed to join in. Our goal is for every one of the 2,000 or so people who attend the Jazz Funeral to enjoy themselves and to feel free to celebrate the end of the summer season in their own way.”
Those who attend the Jazz Funeral usually let loose during the end-of-season celebration.
“Some may weep and cry for dearly departed Summer, other dress to the hilt in costumes like they would if they were attending a New Orleans Jazz Funeral,” Bacon said. “Everyone smiles and laughs at the tongue-in-cheek humor that pervades the Jazz Funeral and all are encouraged to sing-along with the Dixieland bands.”
The Jazz Funeral has a history of attracting great musical talent. Many professional musicians from east coast states get together this time of year to play Dixieland tunes to entertain those who attend the Jazz Funeral and help celebrate another end of the summer season, according to assistant chairperson Wright.

About The Author: Steven Green

Alternative Text

The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.