Business brisk on busy July 4 weekend

New Dogfish Inn greets visitors in Lewes
Visitors packed the Boardwalk as they awaited fireworks July 4. BY DENY HOWETH
July 14, 2014

A little rain couldn't keep the crowds away from the Cape Region July 4.

Many area businesses reported record weekends, as a rainy holiday followed by a beautiful, sun-filled weekend satisfied almost all entrepreneurs.

In its first weekend open to the public, the Dogfish Inn was at capacity. The 16-room Lewes motel attracted guests from six states and Washington, D.C., including as far as Louisiana.

"We ended up having couples looking for a getaway, families and people celebrating anniversaries," said Innkeeper Andrew Greeley. "All visitors were able to not only get to the brewpub and brewery, but all of them got a chance to explore the city of Lewes and all it has to offer."

In Rehoboth Beach, Kathy McGuiness, chairwoman of Rehoboth Main Street’s fireworks committee, said the fireworks attracted a healthy crowd, despite bad weather in the morning. Visitors for the fireworks were still slowly filing onto the beach even within 90 minutes of the shooting starting.

“Normally people come early in the morning, they camp out and get their spot on the beach. Maybe about within an hour-and-a-half of the show starting there were still spots on the beach, which is so rare,” McGuiness said.

She said Main Street gave no consideration to canceling the fireworks, as Ocean City and Bethany Beach did, confident the weather would clear long before the show began.

Most people chose to try to park either within Rehoboth or used the Park and Ride on Route 1.

“I do know people were parking wherever and coming in from different locations, even on the highway,” McGuiness said.

Mayor Sam Cooper said a number of people parked at Tanger Outlets and walked to the Park and Ride.

Few decided to take advantage of parking at the Gordons Pond lot in Cape Henlopen State Park. Lynn said even at 8:30 p.m., 45 minutes before the fireworks went off, she counted only 75 cars in the lot. She said some who came into Gordons Pond turned around and went back towards Rehoboth, either not wanting to wait in line or fearing they would miss the fireworks. McGuinesss said all 200 parking spaces at the Deauville Beach lot were filled.

Ryan Schwamberger, general manager at Dogfish's Rehoboth brewpub, said the restaurant was packed from the minute they opened July 4.

"We were able to get the deck opened up at 4:30, so our guests could dine outdoors," he said. "We went through quite a bit of beer this weekend, and fed a lot of guests as well. Overall we had a wonderful weekend."

Funland personnel manager Chris Darr said the early-morning storm July 4 provided some anxious moments.

“We worried that the weather would keep people away on Friday the fourth but that was not the case,” Darr said.  “Friday morning we had almost no customers until 1 p.m., and then the park was packed by 2 p.m.  Traditionally, after the fireworks our crowds leave, but they came back in, and we stayed busy until almost midnight.”

Darr said while Funland did not break any records, the park was happy the weekend turned out so well.

While July 4 itself may not have seen the crowds Rehoboth is used to, Cooper said it was made up for over the weekend as visitors poured in for perfect beach weather.

“It was wall-to-wall cars,” Cooper said.

Dewey has busy night July 4, quiet rest of weekend

Dewey Beach Mayor Diane Hanson said the night of July 4 was busier that last year. She said it could have been a combination of the rain in the morning so people started drinking earlier and the fact that it was the last night in town for a lot of week-long renters who go from Saturday to Saturday.

Saturday night, Hanson said, was a whole different story.

“By 10 o'clock Saturday night there were no lights on my street. You would have thought it was October,” she said happily.

Dewey Beach Commissioner Anna Legates reported a positive story about one family who rented in Rehoboth over the past week, but spent so much time in Dewey doing the families activities that they're going to be renting in Dewey next summer.

The family was happy to be able to do the movies on Monday, the bonfires on Wednesday and skimboarding during the day, said Legates.