Cape Gazette

Friday Editorial

Rehoboth and its fireworks: What to do?

May 30, 2014

What happens when a place or an event gets too popular? Baseball legend Yogi Berra, in his inimitable fashion, once characterized the situation: “Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore, it’s too crowded.”

It happened in Lewes two decades ago when an informal New Year’s Eve gathering on Second Street inflated in just a few years to a precariously crowded happening that had to come to an end. The combination of happy revelers, a narrow space, heavy champagne bottles all surrounded by plate-glass windows became too dicey.

The World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is also feeling the pressures of its suc­cess. With so many moving parts - many of them flying through the air - and crowds counted in the thousands, liabilities associated with the event have forced organizers to once again seek a new home.

In Rehoboth Beach, Main Street’s popular Fourth of July fireworks show brings tens of thousands of people into the resort. Cars fill every available space and then some. Get­ting people into town is one thing. It happens gradually.

But getting them back out of town happens more all at once. The result? Gridlock for about an hour.

This year a perfect storm is brewing. The holiday falls on a Friday, which promises to bring even larger crowds. Further compli­cating the situation is the lack this year of the open field option near the park-and-ride which in the past provided auxiliary parking for hundreds of vehicles whose passengers then took buses into town. The field is not available because construction on a new mo­tel complex is about to begin. A plan to shift auxiliary parking to the Gordons Pond area of Cape Henlopen State Park near North Shores is being met with resistance from residents of that area.

So what to do? With so many smart people living in our communities, someone must have viable suggestions. Send us your letters and emails, and we will pass them along. The show is just too good to let its popularity spell its demise.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Wyneth Achenbaum | May 31, 2014 09:14

Might Tanger make an exception, and permit fireworks parking, starting at the perimeters of their 3 centers?

That plus Midway might solve the problem.   And perhaps promising and giving buses priority on the streets during the exit period would help.

Offering free service from the Tanger centers and paid from closer-in Park & Ride (if there is any space there by early evening) might also help solve the problem.   Obviously good electronic signage, updating which lots are full, will make a big difference.

I wasn't aware that the North Shore property owners were so special that having pedestrians and traffic passing their neighborhood -- or people on THEIR beaches below the high tide line -- was something they could protest successfully.  Would not occur to me to complain about the cars backed up on "my" avenue during the fireworks exit.  It is a two-way street, and I've never seen traffic occupy both lanes, so emergency vehicles can get through.

Finally, priority parking for bikes and scooters, without requiring stickers, might help reduce the number of cars. Perhaps one of the churches can provide such a parking lot.

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