WEEKEND #1, 2020
(Memorial Day Weekend)
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
FUNLAND NOT OPEN FOR FIRST MEMORIAL DAY IN ITS HISTORY
Unknown when Rehoboth Beach's popular amusement park might reopen.
Funland has never before been closed on Memorial Day Weekend. Traditionally, says Christopher Darr, Funland personnel manager, "this weekend is one of the busiest of the summer and begins the 109-day sprint to Labor Day which encompasses the majority of our season."
"Like so many others in Rehoboth Beach, we at Funland realize we may be facing the most challenging summer in the history of our business," Darr added, noting that he does not know when Funland will reopen.
"We can say with certainty that we will not open during 'Phase 1' which begins on June 1," Darr explained. "Our family has been unable to work in the park this spring due to the shelter-in-place order and once we start it takes our family 3-4 weeks to set up the park. We are working closely with State and local officials to understand when and how we might be able to open in a later phase," he added.
"Still we remain positive," he says, "working hard on plans to adapt Funland, and as we move through the month of June we hope that additional clarity on safety guidelines and government recommendations will allow us a path to safely open the park."
"We look forward to the day when Funland is filled with the sounds of happy customers and will continue to update everyone as we learn more," Darr added.
Finding himself in a similar situation, Matt Weiner, whose family owns the three Zelky's arcades on the Rehoboth boardwalk, expressed concern once again this weekend that while his donut shop has been considered an "essential business," he will be unable to open any of the family's arcades on June 1 because of the state's strict "social distancing" requirements.
While Weiner says he plans to go "above and beyond the CDC guidelines for sanitary requirements," in his estimate, he would need to remove 80 percent of his arcade games to comply with the strict regulations. He hopes a proposal he has drafted with the assistance of other Delaware arcade owners will gain some traction with the governor.
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POPULAR NIGHTSPOTS STRUGGLE WITH NEW RULES
Bars and nightclubs at the beach are having their own challenges. That's Bryan Derrickson, on the right, talking with two agents from the Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) this past Friday night. Initially, Rehoboth Beach police came to his Conch Island Key West Bar and Grill around 6 p.m. to discuss the crowd that had gathered outside his bar. He had opened the bar's windows so they could hear the musicians perform live. He admitted he also had provided barstools for patrons because he says the city has yet to provide sufficient benches. A bench was placed there last week but they need more, he said.
"If you don't push back, you are out of business... I got to do something," he said, as he is trying to keep his staff and musicians at least partially paid while he is allowed to sell food and drink for carryout. Once the customers leave, he added, they need to be responsible for where they eat and drink.
Derrickson was a full-time Rehoboth Beach police officer in the 1990's and his father, Donald, was a well-known pro-business city commissioner.
On Sunday, this statement was posted on the Conch Island Facebook page indicating that the nightclub has agreed to "take a step back" recognizing the "value in a truce."
Derrickson fears that the June 1 reopen date will do little to ease the financial burden on restaurants as the 30 percent-capacity limit is too restrictive. "When you are sent to prison, at least you know your release date," Derrickson points out. Here we have no idea when this crisis might end!
Conch Island was not the only Rehoboth Beach nightspot to get a visit from officials this past Friday night. They also investigated a private event held at Aqua. "Both establishments were cooperative and took appropriate actions to ensure compliance," says RBPD's Lt. Jaime Riddle.
"Neither establishment was cited," he added. "We understand that business owners are growing frustrated and are trying to do all they can to bring in revenue," Lt. Riddle pointed out. "As an agency we are doing all we can to work with them to ensure their actions are consistent with what is allowable, but most importantly ensure public safety," he said.
Major Kevin Jones, DATE's deputy chief, said Saturday that his agents "met with the owners/management of Conch Island and Aqua and issued warnings as they related to congregating and/or consumption on the premises... We made similar contacts at Nalu in Dewey Beach and Harpoon Hannas in Fenwick Island. No charges were filed," he added.
On Friday, Dewey Beach commissioners unanimously approved an expansion of premises plan that would allow town restaurants to use parking or other private property for outdoor seating starting on June 1 with state approval. "Dewey has something for everyone -- beach, bay, dogs, family, restaurants, music -- and it's important the restaurants survive this pandemic," said Comm. David Moskowitz. "Hopefully this helps the restaurants financially while maintaining balance," he added. Mayor Paul Kuhns said Monday that Rehoboth Beach commissioners are currently working on a similar plan to expand outdoor seating possibilities for restaurants.
"We are all working hard to try and do the right thing as to not impede the process of getting back open full time," says Steve "Monty" Montgomery of The Starboard. "The ABCC/DATE has been very supportive in stopping by several of our businesses to help explain the rules from the Governor's order on carry-out alcoholic beverages. They, like us, all want to see this continue as it's a huge help to most people's carry-out sales. While no full-time restaurant can pay many bills or make much of a living doing only carry-out, it's important in that it helps some of our employees get back to work. They are who we all care about very much as business owners. People have been tipping heavily. That's been appreciated by most every restaurant employee I know working these past several weeks," Montgomery added.
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MIRACLE: LOCAL RESTAURATEUR SURVIVES CORONAVIRUS
Darryl Ciarlante-Zuber spent 30 days in ICU including 23 days on a vent.
Darryl and Joe Ciarlante-Zuber, the restaurateurs behind Diego's Hideaway and the original Dos Locos, have an incredible story to share about Darryl surviving 54 days in the hospital and rehab after he contracted Coronavirus in March. During that time, he spent 30 days in ICU, 10 days in a step-down unit and 14 days in rehab.
While in ICU, Darryl was on a vent for 23 days, well beyond what is typical. But Joe, his partner, says Darryl is a fighter and had no underlying medical issues which helped with his survival. While in the ICU, the staff monitored his oxygen levels closely to assure he would not suffer any brain damage and Darryl pulled through.
While in the hospital, he said they almost lost him five times! "The fact that he fought was a huge thing and the medical care is incredible. Although it is all new, totally new... there is no hospital that isn't learning from this experience," Joe points out.
Beebe has been amazing, he said, in regard to the love and support they both received from the staff at Beebe Hospital. "The care they gave him and me was just incredible," he added. They even kept him in touch with Darryl while he was in ICU with regular FaceTime updates.
Darryl returned home just last Wednesday. "Today, after 54 days -- Darryl finally CAME HOME," Joe wrote on his Facebook page. "I am finally able to EMBRACE the reality that he is HOME!! No words can describe the AMAZING FEELING I am having! We can never THANK YOU EACH OF YOU ENOUGH for the continued PRAYERS, THOUGHTS, VIBES, Messages and LOVE for the two of us. ALL OF YOU ARE INCREDIBLE and our hopes and prayers have been answered by seeing this miracle come home today."
Friends and neighbors honored him this past Saturday with a drive-by motorcade in front of his home in the Meadows at Old Landing. "He is bouncing back to the new normal," says Joe!
The popular restaurant duo is still planning to open a restaurant they had under construction at 10 North First Street in downtown Rehoboth. It is named Square One, because that is the same location where they started the original Dos Locos about 20 years ago. See Chris Flood's Cape Gazette article for more on Square One.
The threat from Coronavirus is real, Joe warns. He hopes everyone will take it seriously. Joe and Darryl are grateful for the community support, for Beebe Hospital and for the thoughts, prayers and blessing from friends and family who got them through this ordeal.
Photos courtesy Joe Ciarlante-Zuber
GOVERNOR TOURS CAPE AREA ON MEMORIAL DAY
Perhaps you walked right past him but did not recognize him because of the mask? That was Governor John Carney who walked parts of Dewey, Rehoboth and Lewes on Memorial Day personally studying the situation while speaking with local officials and shopkeepers. Gov. Carney "mentioned how impressed he was with the way our staff was handling the situation of educating the public and working with them in a positive fashion," says Rehoboth Beach Mayor Paul Kuhns.
Later in the afternoon, Gov. Carney provided this 25-minute press briefing from the DNREC Lewes field facility on Pilottown Road. It is anticipated that he will announce details later today on short-term rental restrictions during his regular briefing. Those video updates are posted to the governor's Facebook page.
Photo courtesy Jessica Borcky Weinberg
REMEMBERING DEWEY MAYOR 'TJ' REDEFER
Starting off the summer is often a bittersweet occasion especially as one remembers those who were not able to be here with us. Dewey Beach lost Mayor John 'TJ' Redefer III to pancreatic cancer last month.
The town plans to hold a memorial service for him once the pandemic passes. Please keep his family and friends in our prayers. More details are in the Cape Gazette.
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MERR INVESTIGATES 9 DOLPHIN DEATHS IN PAST WEEK
The staff from the MERR Institute kept busy this holiday weekend investigating more dolphin deaths. Suzanne Thurman, MERR Institute executive director, said her organization responded to four dolphin deaths on Memorial Day alone. That was in addition to the five others that were reported this past week. One of those was this dolphin that was discovered near the double towers in the Cape Henlopen State Park around 2 p.m. this past Friday.
Thurman says she has not had any sea turtles so far this season because of the cooler temperatures.
Photo courtesy MERR Institute
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COASTAL HIGHWAY BRIDGE WORK SET FOR JUNE 30 COMPLETION!
This past week, workers have been painting and striping the Coastal Highway bridge outside of Rehoboth. The anticipated completion date is June 30, weather permitting, says Louise A. Holt, DelDOT spokeswoman. Due to the pandemic, DelDOT will not be having a formal ribbon-cutting.
Lighting on the approaches and across the bridge have been addressed as part of the bridge rehabilitation project along with new concrete decks, approach slabs, joints and bearings; correcting the vertical alignment; realigning the beams; repairing concrete chipping; strengthening concrete piers; sealing concrete abutments and piers; and stabilizing the canal banks. More info regarding this project was covered in this DelDOT pamphlet and in the Cape Gazette.
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THIS IS THE FIRST WEEKEND UPDATE FOR 2020!
We hope all of you have had a good winter and holiday weekend. Reports will likely be shorter this summer. So please keep the news tips, photos, articles, announcements and news releases coming!
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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
The boards at Rehoboth Avenue around noon this past Saturday, a good beach day...
On the beach around 3 p.m. on Saturday...
A sign of the times...
Many hotel and motel parking lots were empty, like this one, on Memorial Day Weekend...
Even ice cream stores are adapting to the new normal...
Some photos courtesy Hoyte Decker
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