The 2013 Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral will be celebrated on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 2, with activities beginning about 5:30 p.m. at the north end of the Bethany Beach boardwalk. The event is family-friendly and free to the public, according to Carolyn Bacon and Marie Wright, the assistant chairs of this year's Jazz Funeral events.
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The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral website can be viewed at www.jazzfuneral.net, which provides a comprehensive view of the event.
Back for its eighth year is the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral Silent Auction to be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30, at Bethany Blues Restaurant, 6 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Bethany Beach. All funds raised at this event will go directly to Sussex County Habitat for Humanity.
The Sept. 2 Jazz Funeral will see the combined forces of three bands, including the Dixie Cats, the Downtown Dixieland Band and the Jazz Funeral Irregulars, leading the procession. These New Orleans-style Dixieland bands help Bethany bid a fond farewell to Summer 2013 and are part of the procession that carries a casket with a mannequin representing Summer of 2013 to its final resting place at the boardwalk bandstand.
After the procession reaches the Bandstand, the band leads the assembled crowd in a rendition of "God Bless America" before the presentation of a series of short speeches to celebrate the funeral's 28th anniversary and the final burial of Summer 2013. Speakers at this year's event include a representative from Sussex County Habitat for Humanity and Jazz Funeral friend Sister Marie. The official Jazz Funeral host is Liane Hansen, a broadcast professional who is known to many as a radio host for National Public Radio.
The Jazz Funeral will also honor the memories of three people who made personal and professional contributions to the event. One of those is Bethany businessman Art Antal who was chairman of the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral for six years. Sadly, Antal passed away in fall 2010.
The funeral got its start 28 years ago, when Moss Wagner and a few Bethany merchants decided to mark the end of summer with a jazz funeral and a small party.
Every year since then, Bethany mourners have given each summer a dignified sendoff. And the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral has attracted crowds -- crowds that ordinarily would have dispersed much earlier in the day as people take to the highways to head home after the Labor Day holidays.
The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is one of only a very few events in the country where all the participants are able and encouraged to join in the event, in this case, the funeral procession, according assistant chairperson Bacon.
"Being able to shed a few tears for Dearly Departed Summer is the only requirement for those who join the procession," Bacon said. "Visitors and locals of all ages are invited to join in the procession and have as much fun as they want at the Jazz Funeral. We invite those who attend to dress up in their favorite costumes and have a great time."
In order to make this year's Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral and Silent Auction run smoothly, the group is seeking new Friends of Summer to volunteer during the annual event.
An extra 2,000 or so visitors usually attend the two events spread over a four-day period. Friends of Summer are needed to greet the guests and assist with some of the Jazz Funeral events.
Those who are interested in helping out as Friends of Summer can contact the Jazz Funeral at PO Box 505, Bethany Beach DE 19930, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message at 302-537-1585.
The Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral Silent Auction begins at 3 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30 at Bethany Blues restaurant located at 6 North Pennsylvania Ave. in Bethany Beach. The beneficiary for funds raised at the silent auction held on the Friday afternoon prior to Labor Day will be the Sussex County Habitat for Humanity.
Working in conjunction with the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral and the Silent Auction is Sussex County Habitat for Humanity’s Thomas Protack, Habitat’s community engagement director.
The event is free, family-friendly and the general public is invited to attend. At the conclusion of the event, those who attend the Jazz Funeral are encouraged to enjoy the rest of the evening by dining at local restaurants in the greater Quiet Resorts’ area.