Cape Gazette

Beach trips have become a family affair

Friendships develop due to mutual love of seashore
By Ron MacArthur | Sep 06, 2013
Photo by: Ron MacArthur Several New Castle County families who gather at the beach each weekend prepare to celebrate the end of the season with an Italian feast on the beach near Herring Point in Cape Henlopen State Park.

During the week, Ann Mills works for the DuPont Co. in Wilmington, but don't get in her way when the weekend comes.

Like so many others, she and husband Mark head south about every summer weekend to spend time at the beach. While others cart chairs, coolers and umbrellas from parking spots across the sand to the shore, she and her “extended beach family” have the art of four-wheel drive beach access to a science. They carry everything imaginable in their trucks for a day at the beach.

That extended beach family has grown and grown over the past four years so that dozens of people have become close because of their love of the beach life. There are at least five families in the group and sometimes as many as eight families; Mills says sometimes work gets in the way of their fun. “We all met on the beach,” Mills said.

Together, they have experienced births, anniversaries and birthdays, and even some trying times.

Noel Mucha, who everyone calls Wonder Woman - and not just because of her red, white and blue bikini - saved her friend Pattie McBride's life by doing the Heimlich maneuver when a piece of steak got lodged in her throat. Then three years ago, Mucha suffered the loss of her son who drowned in the surf.

“We support one another just like a family,” Mills said. “We really love each other.”

The youngest beach-goer, Briella Napier, is only 11 weeks old and already loves the beach, says grandmother Mills.

They keep coming back to the same location near Herring Point in Cape Henlopen State Park for fishing, playing, swimming, eating, sunbathing and lots of fun. Mills said most families and friends spend as much time as they can at the beach, which usually ends up being all day Saturday and Sunday.

And those who lose at the group's favorite game, corn-hole toss, are sure to face the wrath of Missy Kalafut. The roller-derby player is quick to tackle the losers regardless of size - all in fun.

Mills said one of the men in the group tried to return the favor and was in the process of throwing her into the ocean when he realized she actually got the upper hand by pulling down his pants as he picked her up. He didn't realize it until it was too late.

“We saw a full moon that day,” Mills said with a laugh.

The group - at least 24 strong - got together this past Labor Day weekend for a final beach blast at the end of the summer season. The Italian feast was one to rival any good restaurant. They dug out a large table in the sand and sat down to eat around 6 p.m. as the sun began to dip behind the dunes on another perfect beach day.

Of course, they were all back early the next day to do it all over again.


Surf-fishing permit required to reach the beach

Backing up the truck to the shoreline is a way of life for thousands of people who line the shoreline each weekend. Surf-fishing vehicle permit tags are required to ride a vehicle on the sand in designated areas within Cape Henlopen State Park near Lewes, Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve near Broadkill Beach and Delaware Seashore State Park along the Atlantic Coast. Those who park on the sand must be actively involved in surf fishing and have the required equipment on hand.

Four vehicle beach crossings are provided in the two state parks and one crossing is provided to reach the beach on Beach Plum Island.

Annual permits are $65 for residents and $130 for non-residents and $55 for resident seniors over 62 years of age and $110 for non-resident seniors. Delaware firefighters and emergency medical technicians receive free permits.


Four of the leading organizers of the beach weekends are (l-r) Missy Kalafut, Noel Mucha, Ann Mills and Pattie McBride. They spend as much time as possible enjoying the beach life. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
A third generation beach-goer joins the group. Mom Tina Napier gives a bottle to Briella Napier, who is just 11 weeks old. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Games, such as bean-bag toss, are always part of every weekend. Josh Haigh, left, and Mark Mills react to a shot during a game. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
The original family members who started coming to the beach four years ago are (l-r) front row, Dennis Ruff, Alyssa Kalafut, Michelle Octavia, Casara Kalafut and Brady Kalafut and back row, Mike Phillips, Mark Mills, Ann Mills, Noel Mucha, John Haigh, Ralph McBride, Pattie McBride, Missy Kalafut and Mark Kalafut. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Noel Mucha, left, with friends Dennis Ruff and Missy Kalafut enjoy the final weekend of their summer season. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
This tattoo could be the motto for the group of family and friends. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
It's time to prepare the feast. Ann Mills, left, Judy Kreggenwinkel and Pattie McBride start preparing food. The group usually eats all three meals on the beach. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Casara Kalafut spends her 21st birthday on the beach with her mom, Missy Kalafut. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Trucks are in a line along the beachfront. Over the Labor Day weekend, the families drove in more than 20 four-wheel-drive vehicles. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Surf-fishing rods are in a long line along the Cape Henlopen State Park shore. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
There is even a little time for swimming during the busy beach weekend. Noel Mucha, left, and Missy Kalafut take a dip near the end of the day. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Flags fly high to mark their spot on the beach. The first person who arrives is charged with saving spots for others. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Mark Mills scores some points in a bean-bag toss game. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
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