In rhythm with the tuba’s moan, the death march began. Mourners strolled to a solemn “Amazing Grace” southward on the Bethany Beach Boardwalk. They were paying their last respects. Some donned fedoras, dark sunglasses, and black tee-shirts, others draped their faces and bodies in black and purple veils using the corners to blot their tears.
A white-faced-red-wigged woman played a red accordion, and her partner with his strapped on gray beard played the banjo. A nun with “Nun Of Your Business,” printed across her head-piece and “Nun For You” across her black and white habit wailed, “We will miss her!”
“She was too young,” and “very sad” howled some from the crowd. A white plastic skeleton dangled from a man’s black coat and a spider hung by a string from his brown fedora. He sauntered to the victims final resting place with Mardi Gras beads draped through his hands that held a tarantula and skull.
A blond-haired angel bejeweled with cheap necklaces, and a white puff halo hovering over her head carried, “Summer’s” tombstone inscribed with “Rest in Peace Dear Summer,” born Memorial Day and died Labor Day.
Black cats, bats, witches, crescent moons and stars danced on Halloween cloth that draped “Summer’s” casket. “Summer’s” bright orange lipstick accentuated her tan face. A bright yellow wig and straw hat covered her head, and fake flowers enshrouded her.
When the procession arrived at the bandstand, Dixieland music replaced the dirge. Participants and onlookers tapped their feet and swayed to “Has Anyone Seen my Gal,” “Ain’t She Sweet,” “When You’re Smiling,” “God Bless America,” and more. “Summer” enjoyed a good send off. “Yes, I ask you very confidentially, ain’t she sweet?”
This year’s Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is held Labor Day Monday at 5:30 p.m. starting at the north end of the Bethany Beach Boardwalk. Three jazz bands will serenade the crowd: Dixie Cats, Downtown Dixieland Band, and Jazz Funeral Irregulars. It’s a family-friendly and free event, and costumes are welcome. It’s a great way to celebrate summer’s end.