SHORE THING: Looking for a Place to Party

Last Chamber party of the year will be at the corner of Mason and Bay — better than the gazebo, but still not a harbor party. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

August 30, 2012

Another street party this Saturday night – the final “Celebrate the Sun,” hosted by the Northampton Chamber of Commerce. I hope they get it right this time because, well – frankly, the last party was a bust.

That was the “Gazebo Party,” finally consummated July 28 after two cancellations due to rain. I strolled down to take a few pictures, but not much of a crowd was there. The organizers wanted $5 to cross a police line, so I just took my photos from the other side of the yellow tape. The band played on, but it was a sad little affair at the corner of Randolph and Bay.

Contrast that with the Harbor parties the Chamber put on last year. Folks, the Town Harbor is a destination – Bay Avenue is not. (Beach yes, street no.) At the harbor you see boats docked in the water, you see a dramatic sunset on the bay, you feel part of something special.

Why do you think dockside restaurants are so popular (read: The Shanty). Not because their fish is any fresher than half a mile away in town – it’s all about ambiance.

But for reasons still unclear to me, there can be no more harbor parties. I left voicemails with the town manager and assistant town manager asking why, but got only an email from the assistant clerk: “We can no longer use the harbor because there is not enough room with The Shanty there now.”

Not enough room? Then how did our harbor master, Smitty Dize, pull off the hugely successful Clam Slam festival earlier this month? There must have been a thousand people swarming the harbor, including vendors, musicians, and food stands.

And the Shanty restaurant was packed as well, just as you would expect.

And what about the Tall Ships festival? Plenty of room for that at the harbor — and again, I don’t think the Shanty was complaining.

I called the Chamber to ask about this, and left another voicemail.

The Chamber of Commerce is made up of business people, who probably don’t want to be told how to run their business. But my advice is free:

— Skip the $5 admission fee, and recover your expenses from the vendors. You’ll get a larger crowd – and isn’t that what it’s all about? Surely the Chamber isn’t trying to make money on these parties.

— Figure out how to get back to the Town Harbor. Strike a deal with the Shanty, and everyone benefits. I wonder if it’s that pesky $5 admission that’s causing the whole problem? Obviously the Shanty isn’t going to put up with being located behind a police line. But if admission were free, doesn’t the problem just go away?

Meanwhile, the party Saturday night will be at the corner of Mason and Bay – which is a big improvement over the gazebo. As shown in the photo above, you can actually see the water. And, hopefully the police tape won’t block access to the benches beside the water.

But it’s still mostly a street party. That’s all that a lot of towns have to offer. But Cape Charles has a fantastic harbor – which makes the street just not good enough.

SHORE THING is the opinion of the writer, and only the writer. It is an occasional feature of the Cape Charles Wave.



One Response to “SHORE THING: Looking for a Place to Party”

  1. Hank Mayer on August 30th, 2012 6:20 pm

    George — You are going to have to choose between providing Cape Charles residents and businesses with important and current news about the community, versus using the Wave as a personal soapbox to attack well-intentioned community organizations such as the Northampton Chamber of Commerce. The new Celebrate the Sun event on Bay Avenue was sponsored by the Chamber, and the small $5 entrance fee was to cover the cost of the band and encourage the Chamber to continue to do similar events each summer. Yes, it had to be cancelled on two previous weekends because of serious summer storms in the area. Is that their fault? Why do you feel it’s necessary to attack what they are doing and promote the Shanty, which has been found to compete with food and beverage vendors participating in Harbor based events? The Chamber is drawing people to Cape Charles with these events — why are you belittling their efforts?

    George replies: Hank — in my defense, I did not “belittle” the Chamber’s efforts — I merely opined that the Harbor, where the Chamber used to hold their events, is a better location. If you review the Wave’s publicity before and our report afterward of the Gazebo Party, you would see that it was 100 percent supportive. For that matter, we’re running a public service display ad right now for Saturday’s Chamber party. And please, I never blamed the Chamber for canceling due to weather! Also, why must the Wave choose between reporting news and expressing opinion? We are doing both, and news and opinion are clearly differentiated. And finally, I wasn’t promoting the Shanty — I was suggesting that holding a harbor party would certainly not hurt their business. It hadn’t occurred to me that the Shanty might hurt vendors’ business. Is that why the Chamber has moved from the harbor? Please don’t execute the messenger (The Wave) for publishing my little opinion column. As clearly expressed at the bottom of the column, the opinion is mine and mine alone.