Each year before Memorial Day, the Washington Blade hosts a summer kickoff party in Rehoboth Beach at the Blue Moon. For many, it’s become the unofficial start of the new beach season. Rehoboth denizens are creatures of habit and this party caters to locals who will be very busy for the next four months. Before the onslaught, Tim and Randy, two of the co-owners of the Moon, got married in front of hundreds at the Nassau Valley Vineyards in Lewes. The officiant at the wedding was Bishop Gene Robinson, the first gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.
Two weeks before Memorial Day there wasn’t a parking space to be had in Rehoboth on a Friday evening. People were taking advantage of one of the last weekends before parking meters are in effect. The work on Route 1 was nearly complete and the outlets were open and ready for business. Over the years, Rehoboth Beach has become more of a year-round town. If you come and fall in love with the beach call Joe Maggio at Maggio/Shields or Alan Jarmon at Remax and they will show you how to make Rehoboth your new home.
Many restaurants are now open all year and more people are seeing it as a great place to retire. Many of those retirees head to the warm climes of Florida for the winter months, including my sister and sister-in-law, but are now home and the business owners are happy about that. Baltimore Avenue, LGBT central, is coming alive. CAMP, the LGBT community center, begun 25 years ago, is still led by the indomitable Steve Elkins with the help of his husband Murray Archibald. So many people who now enjoy the warm welcome they receive in Rehoboth don’t realize how much of that is due to the work of Steve, Murray and all the people who have worked with and supported CAMP over the years.
Today, Rehoboth has a lesbian city manager, Sharon Lynn. I haven’t met her but hear only good things about the work she is doing. The Rehoboth Beach Commission, made up of six commissioners and the mayor, has always walked a fine line between the sometimes parochial interests of longtime residents who fight change, and the business community and tourists whose dollars support the town. Being the city manager of a town that makes most of its income in a four-month period isn’t an easy job. But then Lynn came from being city manager of Provincetown, Mass., and is used to this.
As the summer season heats up, literally and figuratively, it’s great to see the businesses on Baltimore Avenue thrive. In the CAMP courtyard is Lori’s where great breakfast and lunch sandwiches are always available. Take a moment to look at the art of Ward Ellinger in his courtyard Gallery. The food on the avenue runs the gamut from elegant to casual. The queen of restaurants is the Blue Moon, whose chef Lion Gardner always amazes. After dinner stay to hear Pamala Stanley who sings Sunday-Thursday in the busy bar. On the other end of the block is Hobos, whose owner and chef Gretchen Hanson always has great vegan and seafood specials. Then there is Frank and Louie’s Italian Specialties take out and catering with fantastic sandwiches, baked goods and lasagna that can’t be beat. You won’t be disappointed in anything you get there.
Each year the gay community awaits the opening of Aqua Grill, which this year is Friday May 15. You can’t beat the Aqua deck on a nice summer evening with 300 of your closest hot friends being served drinks by the hot boys of Aqua. Bill Shields and his partner Andreas, who manages the restaurant, are always great hosts. The food is simple, affordable and really good.
On the beach block of Baltimore Avenue there is MIXX restaurant and the always-elegant dining experience at Eden restaurant. Café Azafran has reliably good food and the chance to see and hear the great chanteuse, Holly Lane, the reigning Best Rehoboth Bartender as voted by Blade readers last year.
At the Purple Parrot, owners Hugh and Troy ensure the place gets better each year. Breakfast, lunch or dinner inside or at the Biergarten with this year’s added attraction — the hot Chandler.
From Memorial Day till the end of summer, Rehoboth Beach is a favorite getaway for those living up and down the East Coast. You will be missing out on the fun if you don’t join us.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.