WEEKEND #14, 2022

August 29, 2022

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

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Are Poodle Beach demographics shifting with the sand?

The much-awaited Rehoboth Beach Drag Volleyball grand finale planned for this coming Labor Day Weekend has been canceled. This is the fifth -- and now final -- time the popular tournament has been canceled in its 35-year history.

Mark Kimble, one of the captains of the Delmarva Divas, is one of the original players from when drag volleyball started in 1988. He says it is certainly a unique sport but requires "a lot of work." They consisted of two teams of nine players each. The group spent quite a bit of time not only practicing volleyball but also rehearsing for their performance.

They played at the south edge of the Rehoboth Beach city limits in a location known as Poodle Beach which has traditionally been popular with the gay crowd. Kimble says the beach there seems to be less crowded this summer. Drag volleyball, he explains, has always been about friends playing volleyball all summer and then joining in an end-of-the-season celebration.

"The sad thing is that very few of us who play actually come to the beach anymore. So that camaraderie is just not there anymore. So we just decided it's just as well that we don't do it and remember it for what it was. It is something that I will always cherish and remember so many fun times doing it," he said.

But why aren't the people coming as they had in past years? "My suspicion," Kimble says, "is that it's just too expensive to rent a house for the summer. Now you have all of these mansions in town that rent for $15,000 per week. That's how much they used to be for the summer."

While Poodle Beach continues to be popular on holiday weekends, those who would have been regulars are just not doing the seasonal rentals as in years past, Kimble explains.

One of Kimble's colleagues, Brian Sparrow, says "It is very sad, but the reality is... nobody comes to the beach anymore who plays on the teams except a handful. There are no new people that want to join because they do not come to the beach and the other half of the guys have done this so long that they are just over the fact that traditions are moving on in Rehoboth."

Sparrow was introduced to drag volleyball by his partner, John Bator, who was also a member of one of the teams for about 15 years. Sparrow met Bator and watched him play during Labor Day Weekend, 11 years ago. Sparrow later was asked to join Bator's team! "Labor Day Weekend will always host a special place for us because we can always share how we met and laugh about all the fun drag volleyball stories," Sparrow says.

The combination of multiple factors with the pandemic helped shorten drag volleyball's life rapidly, both Kimble and Sparrow point out. They still have people who currently play and want to continue to do so, but it is not enough to keep the tradition going.

Rehoboth Beach Comm. Jay Lagree, who lives in the neighborhood, says most of the "day trippers" who come to Poodle Beach nowadays are older. They are male and female, gay and straight, and often with families. "We get our share of gay parents with kids," he points out. The cohesive groups that used to mingle here and continue their friendships may simply be unable to afford to do so.

Both LGBTQ Nation and the Washington Blade reported on the demise of drag volleyball this past week. This Camp Rehoboth article by Rich Barnett includes interesting historical background on the tradition.

Photos courtesy Hoyte Decker, Philip Reich and Richard Tananis


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Noticeably missing this summer from downtown Rehoboth Beach has been the sound of the familiar firehouse siren. In the past, it would sound for a full minute during certain hours (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) to alert fire company members of potential fire or rescue incidents.

Last summer, osprey built a nest on the siren which sits atop a utility pole behind the firehouse. Despite that nest, the fire company continued to use the siren in 2021.

But this summer, members of the fire company were informed that the siren would not be used because of the osprey, presumably due to guidance from the state. But a FOIA to DNREC's fish & wildlife division turned up no correspondence between the agency and the fire company or the city regarding that osprey nest.

For much of this summer, the nest sat empty, although what appeared to be an osprey was seen on it briefly in July. Ospreys typically use their nests until they migrate in September. Here are two amazing photos taken of osprey in Rehoboth.

Photo courtesy Richard Tananis

The fire company has yet to comment on what exactly the plan is for the firehouse siren. City officials, who operate the 9-1-1 center which activates that siren, have referred questions to the fire company.

In an email from Capt. Kent Swarts, fire company spokesman, he referred this question to Chief Chuck Snyder who has not yet responded for comment.

Photo courtesy Richard Tananis

Other fire companies have had problems with osprey nests. The fire company in Spring Lake, New Jersey in 2014 received national attention after ospreys nested on the firehouse siren there.

The Indian River VFC had a similar situation with its firehouse on Oak Orchard Road, east of Millsboro. An exclusionary device has since been built on its siren to discourage the birds from nesting. Ospreys regularly return to previously existing nests each year.


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Two men were injured, one critically, after they were slashed by a pontoon boat propeller on the Rehoboth Bay late Friday afternoon.

Captain Nick Couch, from DNREC's Fish and Wildlife Natural Resources Police, says about 10 college-age men had rented the pontoon boat. Just before 4:30 p.m., he said, they decided to pose for a photo near the bow of the vessel.

Photo courtesy Rehoboth Beach VFC

As the entire group gathered near the vessel's bow, the operator stepped away from the helm to take the photo while the boat was still in gear and moving forward, he said. Just prior to the photo being taken, three of the men posing for the photo fell off the vessel resulting in two of them getting slashed by the boat's propeller.

They took the pontoon boat to the dock/ramp here off Collins Avenue in Dewey Beach where the two men were taken to the hospital by ambulance. One suffered severe cuts to both his shoulder and torso area and remained in surgery as of Friday evening, Capt. Couch said.

Photo courtesy Rehoboth Beach VFC

The operator of the pontoon boat has been charged with negligent operation of a motor vessel, he added.


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A 21-year-old woman was struck and killed late Friday on Coastal Highway in Ocean City. Police say Sophia Battisti from Reinholds, Pennsylvania was crossing against the pedestrian signal when she got hit around 11:55 p.m. in the northbound lanes here at 59th Street.

Good Samaritans initiated lifesaving efforts until EMS arrived, but Battisti was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver and striking auto were located at the scene. Police say alcohol is not a factor for the driver.

Northbound Coastal Highway traffic was rerouted through the alleyways in the ocean block of 58th Street for approximately four hours while officers processed the crash scene.

On June 20, a man was struck and killed at 47th Street, and on July 13, a man later died after he was struck on the Harry Kelly Bridge which is technically just outside the city limits.



Multiple people called 9-1-1 after they saw smoke and flames coming from the Thompson Island Brewing Company just outside of Rehoboth around 11:35 a.m. Sunday.

Photo courtesy Gillian Ward

According to the Rehoboth Beach VFC, the fire was in a stove exhaust hood and was contained to the hood and wood-fired stove with no extension. The State Fire Marshal is investigating.



Police say a motor scooter was being driven north on Coastal Highway in the bus/bike lane when the operator attempted to turn here onto Church Street. But that is when an auto, also turning, entered the path of the scooter, says Sr. Cpl. Jason Hatchell, state police spokesman. In an attempt to avoid the collision, the 40-year-old scooter operator and a passenger swerved and fell from the scooter. Amazingly, both declined an ambulance to the hospital.

Photo courtesy David Moskowitz

The bus/bike lane at this intersection has been a trouble spot for collisions between motor scooters and autos for several years.


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The Rehoboth Beach Police Department is asking for assistance in identifying this white female who is a suspect in multiple graffiti incidents that occurred in town between July 25 and August 11.

Tips can be provided to Det. Brian Reynolds at 302-524-1391 or via the RBPD website.


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Rehoboth Beach received its third recreational water advisory of the summer last week. This time the Virginia Avenue test sample in addition to the Rehoboth Avenue sample had exceeded the recommended guidelines for Enterococci. That is why the advisory was extended north to Pennsylvania Avenue. The previous two advisories were from the Rehoboth Avenue test site only.

The advisory was later lifted after subsequent tests were within the acceptable guidelines.

According to DNREC, high Enterococcus levels can mean there are other, potentially harmful, bacteria and viruses in the water.

More info is in the Cape Gazette and on the DNREC Recreational Waters website.


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In years past, we would simply walk under the boardwalk and pick it up! But when a woman visiting from Wilmington dropped her iPhone through this narrow crack in the boardwalk at Wilmington Avenue around 2 p.m. Sunday, she was stuck! The phone had no case which allowed it to slip easily through the crack on the boardwalk side of a bench.

Rehoboth Beach police called the public works to the rescue. They came up with a plan: Dig out enough sand to slide one brave guy under the boardwalk while everybody else stood around and watched.

He used a claw tool and after several attempts, was able to grab the woman's phone and save the day!

With smartphone safely in hand, she poses with three members of the city's cell phone rescue team!



The Rehoboth Beach Parking Department protects details on its tows like medical institutions do with healthcare records! But occasionally, a few interesting tidbits slip out.

It's that time of the season when those who have gotten parking citations and have failed to pay have accumulated enough in both time and fines that their autos become "towable."

Last Monday, parking enforcers caught a Ford Escape whose owner owed the city $895! She became aware of the tow request and was forced to negotiate. But it was too late! Coastal Towing left with her Escape.

Last Wednesday, this Ford F250 was found parked in the ocean block of Wilmington Avenue. Its owner too owed the city fine money. But it was towed before anyone from the truck returned.



A decommissioned Navy ship was towed past Rehoboth last Monday, headed for Philadelphia.

LCDR Jason S. Fischer, force public affairs officer, says the USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) was being towed from Norfolk to the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia. The ship will be retained in what's called a "Logistic Support Asset" (LSA) status, he said. Here it is being towed by the USNS Apache.

Photo courtesy Richard Tananis

The USS Whidbey Island had a decommissioning ceremony at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia on July 22 after nearly 38 years of distinguished service. See the Navy's website for info.


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A look inside: Delaware Beach Life August 2022 issue



The State of Maryland has been exploring various options for another Chesapeake Bay crossing. The Maryland Transportation Authority is hosting open houses, both online and in-person, to hear from the public, address concerns and answer questions starting on September 7.

Photo courtesy Peter Tannenwald

Details on the various crossing options with maps and the open house schedule are on this special MdTA website.


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Delaware Seashore State Park's Paddlefest was a great event on Saturday to benefit the state parks!

Participants paddled from Savages Ditch to Tower Road. They even saw a young dolphin in the bay!

The big after party was at Tower Beach!

Photos courtesy Diane Scobey



This past Friday, the Rehoboth Art League opened the 10th Regional Juried Biennial Exhibition featuring works from artists living in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. One does not have to be a RAL member to register for it. "The caliber of work," says Nick Serratore, RAL's exhibitions director, "is really phenomenal."

As far as trends go, Serratore says it is obvious that the artists put a lot of time into their work, but the majority of what he is seeing now is conceptual work. He says it's exciting to see and this actually pushes the artists and their mediums to different realities, areas and dynamics.

Artists are breaking away and getting into more of an abstract feel to their work and are experimenting more, he noted. "As you can see, if you look around, we don't see too many traditional pieces here. We see portrait work that has been just done differently, zooming in you can see the sucker over there with a lollipop. Also, almost like a Madonna and child on the circular canvas... it's really just quite interesting. It's not your typical stuff," he points out.

The Ventures Gallery features Zoomorphism, Works by Jason Lyons. His art is sculpture using found and repurposed items which he has transformed into creatures such as bugs, alligators and armadillos. "I looked at it and I was like, there are objects embedded into these sculptures that I haven't seen that I've grown up with," Serratore explains, such as spoons, bottle openers, things on musical instruments, cars, etc.

In the League's Homestead is the Harvest Moon, a juried members' showcase exhibition which depicts the transition from summer as we get into that time of year when the weather changes through October.

The DeWitt gallery is showcasing selected works from the League's collections. The Rehoboth Art League is one of a few active art collecting organizations in Delaware. The collection currently contains more than 900 items and includes many historical works by prominent Delaware "Heritage" artists who were instrumental in the formation of the league in 1938.

Details are on the RAL website.


Early Sunrise at The Sands by Sydney Layton...

Sunrise Trio on the Beach near Laurel Street by Linda Roth...

The Great Dune in Cape Henlopen State Park by Susan Howard...

Interested in photography? Enter Delaware Beach Life's photography contest or Rehoboth Reflections.



THE MERR REPORT--- Suzanne Thurman of the MERR Institute says they continue to monitor the dolphins in the C&D Canal. "We thought they were gone but we got another report this week," she said. MERR will be holding its big fundraising gala on November 12 at Salero in Rehoboth. She says this will be a festive event that gives people the opportunity to show their support for marine mammal and sea turtle rescue by attending and participating in the live and silent auction and other entertaining activities. "We also hope to launch our ocean education center plans at this event, which will be an exciting and beneficial addition to our coastal community," she adds. Details will be available in the coming weeks, so please check the MERR website.


SOLA3 TO HOST CLIMATE-CHANGE WORKSHOP ON SEPTEMBER 10--- Sallie Forman, SOLA3 founder and president, says the organization is sponsoring an informative workshop titled "Water Water Everywhere" that will feature expert speakers who will explain about threats to our coastal communities brought about by climate change and sea-level rise. They will also explain how we can prepare for such events, plus information about how state and federal agencies regulate our lakes. Please see the SOLA3 website for info and to RSVP.


TODDLER STRUCK BY AUTO IN O.C.--- An 18-month-old girl from Wilmington was struck by an auto near the parking garage ramp at the Crystal Beach Hotel on 25th Street in Ocean City around 10:20 a.m. last Monday, says Ashley Miller, OCPD spokeswoman. The girl was flown to a trauma center with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the vehicle remained on the scene. The traffic safety unit is handling the investigation, she said.


WOMAN INJURED IN JET-SKI CRASH IN WEST O.C.--- Maryland Natural Resources Police responded to the Isle of Wight Bay for a reported Jet-Ski collision just before 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. According to Lauren Moses, MNRP spokeswoman, officers determined that two rented Jet-Skis were involved in a collision. One of the operators, a 21-year-old woman was initially reported unconscious. However, she was conscious and alert upon the arrival of first responders. She was taken by ground to a trauma center with non-life-threatening injuries. The operator of the other Jet-Ski was uninjured and was cited for operating above 6 knots within 100 feet of another Jet-Ski, Moses said.


DEAD SHARK BURIED ON BEACH--- Rehoboth Beach lifeguards spotted a dead shark floating in the surf around 2:40 p.m. last Tuesday off Hickman Street. Once it made landfall, they buried it on the beach on the south side.


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