Forget the boys of summer – from little league to the old-timers. The national pasttime in these parts is the sport called locals vs. tourists. After a winter we thought would never end — yes! It wasn’t our imagination, we got almost three times as much snow as average — the tourists have descended like rabid hounds unleashed from hell.
While it’s still abundantly clear that many people are still rebuilding their houses post-Sandy all along the coast, every shore town is pulling out all the stops to entice tourists with seafood festivals, craft/art shows, flea markets, outdoor concerts, outdoor movie nights, tall ships to sail around the bays, nighttime lighthouse climbs and beach bonfires — even in towns that were never the ‘usual suspects’ prior to Sandy.
It’s a base hit for both sides as local businesses change to summer hours, and stay open past 5 pm. This gives locals the opportunity to get all their errands finished by Thursday afternoon. The tourists battle themselves at the stores on the weekends – especially for parking spaces. We actually have to waste police resources at our grocery store every weekend in the summer to ensure the tourists don’t run people down in the parking lot. My tax dollars at work, which pleases the locals as much as the poor cop who gets stuck with that assignment…
And they really need to leave their attitude behind. At the grocery checkout last week — a Wednesday — a man came up behind me and barked “Hurry up and get out of my way. I just drove from Florida.” The cashier and I both gave him an icy stare. He flinched and stepped back. We would never drive down to Florida and imitate that behavior because we know the locals there would pull out a gun and shoot us dead. And that man is most likely polite at home because he knows he wouldn’t live to see the sun set if he made such comments to locals there. Don’t taunt the locals. That’s just rude.
The farmers’ market scores a hit for the locals. Locally grown fruit and veggies picked fresh, available for select hours under tents that leave with the farmers — during the week and located on the local roads. (We grow the best corn and tomatoes.) I scored some Vermont maple syrup a couple of weeks ago through the farm’s partnership with another small one in Vermont. This past week local honey was finally available because I don’t buy that commercial stuff in the grocery store.
It’s not quite the same as when I was a kid and our parents would send us on our bikes to the farm to pick up a dozen ears of corn or a bushel of tomatoes which we’d balance on our handlebars to get home, but I for one don’t want to see the remaining farms become condos or some big box store.
The library sponsored book sales are a double run for the locals. The tourists bring or buy new books, then drop them off at the library instead of taking them home. Not only do the libraries receive new books for circulation, the locals get to scoop up the rest for 50 cents or even less when there’s a Buck A Bag sale.
Locals were able to hit a homer last weekend despite Arthur. The western front never came near us and Arthur blew past with very few rain showers, light breezes and clear skies by early Friday afternoon. Most evening festivities went on as planned. We don’t let a little rain bother us. We don’t melt in the rain. I was able to get to the island for a craft show on Saturday (scoring parking in the park) with only a five minute delay. Then it was back to the mainland where the locals were hosting a tri-state food truck showdown along with the usual flea market. Good eats — even though I suspect not all the trucks made it. Apparently most of the tourists didn’t arrive on time since I saw them stopped in a five mile backup to the island — which is typical Friday night tourist traffic when I headed home. Locals know which roads to take to avoid them.
Until the next food truck showdown, while I run errands, there’s a small plain white truck with a Sabrett umbrella that parks on the side of a one-lane highway where I can get a dog with the works for a buck seventy-five — just like the pushcarts in NYC — without the price. The tourists will never find it.