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May 30, 1997     Cape Gazette
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May 30, 1997

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12 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, May 30 - June 5, 1997 Memorial Day Weekend a mixed bag as weather takes nosedive Rehoboth "meet and greet" program well-received; Lewes Chamber reports strong business weekend; Dewey parking permit sales down Compiled by staff It was an all-too-typical Memo- rial Day Weekend for the Cape Region - a sparkling beginning that degenerated into a rainy and cold holiday as the days pro- gressed. The silver lining, however, is that such weather lures the visitors to the beach and then sends its captive audience out to the stores and restaurants in droves. No ma- jor accidents nor incidents were reported in the coastal towns, al- though there were the usual fender benders, unruly and ungracious behavior, both behind the wheel and under the influence. Rehoboth parking permit levels steady, Rehoboth Beach City Manager Greg Ferrese reported that the sale of residential parking permits was brisk over the weekend, generat- ing approximately $43,000 com- pared to $42,000 over the Memor- ial Day weekend of 1996. "It's the biggest week for sales because many people are purchas- ing their transferable seasonal per- mits then," Ferrese noted. "And I heard a lot of compliments from residents who felt their streets weren't as congested as last year. I chalk that up to the fact that we now have 25, 50 and 75 cent me- ters around town, which the visi- tors are using." Revenues generated from park- ing meters also increased over last year's Memorial Day Weekend, from $41,031 to $42,509. The new change machine installed in the easterly island at the intersec- tion of Rehoboth Avenue and First Street spewed out approxi- mately $1,300 in quarters over the weekend, even though the signs advertising it aren't yet in place. Ferrese also said that he was happy to see that the resort transit buses were not lingering long at the Boardwalk tO drop off and pick up passengers. There were 34 traffic violations and 17 criminal arrests for minor offenses, with one out-of-town woman reporting having the con- vertible cover of her Saab slashed sometime between 10 a.m. and noon, Sunday, May 25 while it sat on the second block of Baltimore Avenue. Summing it up, he added, "it was a great weekend, not weather- wise, but the number of people. It was a very orderly crowd, with minimal complaints, and busiiaess was good. The new rest rooms at Delaware Avenue were well-utilized and now I'd like to see new rest rooms at Rehoboth Avenue." Sewer flow indicates people left early Bob Stenger at the Rehoboth Wastewater Treatment Plant, which services both Rehoboth and Dewey beaches, reported in mil- lions of gallons of sewage processed over the weekend as follows: Friday, May 23 - 1.628; Saturday, May 24 - 2.468; Sun- day, May 25 - 2.672; and Monday, May 26 - 1.980. Sunday's high indicates that many people did decide to pack it up and head home early rather than waiting until the last rays of sun that finally peaked out Mon- day evening. Traffic on ferry decreases slightly Both foot and vehicle traffic on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry de- creased very slightly this Memori- al Day Weekend (May 23-26) over last year's. Vehicular traffic reported was 7,069 compared to 7,218 in 1996, while passengers were down to 21,625 compared to 21,960 in 1996. Rehoboth merchants look forward to crowds Many business owners and their employees are confident that Re- hoboth Beach is in for a healthy summer, money wise, although some skepticism was in evidence. "I expect sales to be a lot better than last summer," said Lauren Fuqua, an employee at Sierra Moon on Rehoboth Avenue. "We are increasing purchases by putting items on sale and advertis- ing the sales." George Buchwald, owner of Capriotti's, a Rehoboth Avenue sub and sandwich emporium, said on the other hand that with the growth on Route 1, "everything down here is suffering. We're hoping that with the new develop- ment downtown, it will help us." Dennis Santangini, who recent- ly opened The Great American Diner on Wilmington Avenue, said he had no complaints about the v/eekend. "We were slammed Sunday and Monday," he said. But there was an anti-develop- ment voice in the crowd. Court- ney Smith Shrader, who has been working for the beach umbrella and chair franchise since 1989 in Rehoboth Beach, said, "I don't like it when people come in and build exotic buildings. Rehoboth is an historic town and I don't think people realize that. If devel- opment keeps on going, I'm going to look for somewhere else to live." Shrader added that there shouldn't be so much "hype" about working on the beach, "like it was Baywatch or something." With 437 retail businesses, more than 50 restaurants and 142 outlet stores on Route 1, one thing is certain - they are all looking for- ward to seeing plenty of summer visitors with a lot of money to spend if they are all to survive. Resort chamber reports mixed bag Carol Everhart, executive direc- tor of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, spoke to a variety of members in the accommodations, restaurant and retail trades and came away with responses about the weekend that ranged the spectrum from fantastic to lackluster. The Memorial Day 5K in Rehoboth Beach drew a record number of runners for one of the kick-off races for the summer roadraeing series. Here the runners are shown at the start. i II i I Ilt4lr-- ---- ................ " ......... Joe Bonk photo Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry (right) was pho- tographed outside Dewey Beach Surf and Sport, where owner Harry Wilson said he rented a bike over the holiday. He's seen here with two unidentified companions. "We had fewer motels having no vacancies than last year, but 80 percent reported they were full. Some said they did a little better than last year, while others report- ed they did a bit worse, with Sat- urday being the big night," she said. Restaurants, on the other hand, "told me they were very pleased - some even broke records from Ju- ly Fourth weekend of last year. With the restaurants Sunday seemed to be the bigger day," Everhart said. "It was a mixed, mixed, mixed bag for retail stores - everything from having too many customers to not nearly enough. And this went for downtown Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach and the Out- lets," Everhart continued. 'q'here were no comments that I received that enabled me to tie this all to- gether. It's a real guessing game." One new program - Meet and Greet on the Boardwalk - was a real success, according to Ever- hart. For one hour Saturday evening, Chamber President Rob Marshall, Santangini, Rehoboth Police Chief Creig Doyle, Dewey Mayor Bob Frederic, commissioners Kenny Vincent and Bitsy Cochran, Dayna and Chris Quillen gathered at the foot of Rehoboth Avenue, handing out salt water taffy, information about the reso, stickers and Smiley the Porpoise buttons to all who passed by. "People thought we'must be selling something, but when they learned what we were doing, they were very impressed," said San- tangini. Another new program, "The Smiley Crew," is also off to a win- . ning start. Chamber members are encour- aged to participate in this program which entails putting quarters in meters which have expired or are about to, and an envelope on the windshield explaining the pro- gram and asking that they enclose a few quarters and drop them off at the Chamber office. "We got people in right away with their envelopes, wanting to repay us - it's a real feel good Dewey Beach busy, but not overwhelmed Dewey Beach businesses and town officials reported typical Memorial Day activity. As beach- goers flocked to the shore in droves, the Delaware resort braced itself for the influx of tourists. According to most Dewey Beach officials, though, the town took it all in stride. "No doubt about it, Dewey was the most crowded I've seen it in six years," said Dewey Beach Po- lice Chief Raymond Morrison. He said despite the large crowds, no major incidents occurred and arrests were down from last year. "People really seemed to enjoy themselves," he said. "There's a greater influx of people both young and old." "We had the typical Memorial Day start-up problems," said Town Manager Bill Rutherford. "We had the usual nighttime crowd, which puts the hardship on the police department." He said the unseasonably chilly weather during part of the week- end stymied parking permit sales and discouraged many day-trip- pers from visiting the area. "Weather-wise, we were off," said Rutherford, 'q'hat resulted in parking permit sales being off. I think if we'd had a couple more warm days, there'd have been more people here." Parking permits are sold at the Dewey Beach town hall on Rod- ney Street, and can be obtained weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. until midnight, said Ruther- ford. Most business owners said they were pleased overall with the hol- iday sales. .... We broke the last two years records," said Dewey Beach Surf and Sport owner Harry Wilson. "Monday was a total wash-out, but we had a strong Saturday and Sunday. I couldn't be more hap- py." The crowds included more fam- ilies than last year, he said, and Continued on page 15