Remember when summer hit when you were a kid? Suddenly, every day was Friday and you got to stay out late having fun every single night of the week.
Then you grew up, got a job, and summer became something you have to squeeze in on the weekends, with the occasional “sick” day or half day Friday if you’re lucky.
Well, enough already. I’m declaring Wednesday the new Friday, and the are the perfect way to get a piece of summer way before the weekend. Stick with me and this little primer, and you’ll be feeling like you’re 12 again in no time.
Every single Wednesday evening from now ‘til the end of August, the Sandy Hook Foundation puts on a free outdoor concert at Beach E, just past the Visitor Center. Well-known local bands like Brian Kirk and the Jirks and Quincy Mumford jam out under the setting sun as carefree friends and families chill in beach chairs or bust a move on the dance floor that’s set up right there in the sand.
Concerts start at 6pm, which means you’ll need to ditch work a little early, but not so early that you won’t get credit for coming in. A post-lunch “bellyache” should do the trick, or my personal favorite: cramps. If you’re not a great fibber, go in an hour early, or tell your boss you’ll be working offsite. That’s the reason we all have smart phones now people. It’s just as easy to return emails from a beach blanket as it is from a cubicle.
My kids and I usually get there right at 4 because that’s when they stop charging to get into the park and we’re notorious cheapskates. At that time, most of the daytrippers are shipping out, and the concert crowd has yet to gather, so we get prime real estate, close enough to see both the stage and the shoreline. We swim long enough to for it to feel like a full beach day, then do dinner on the beach as the show starts.
Here at Hook concerts, the crowd takes picnicking seriously. You can bring coolers, and many of the regulars also bring mini folding tables and other elaborate tailgating paraphernalia. Some, like me, even fly flags or windsocks so friends always know where to find us. Adult beverages and mommy-juice are allowed (just no glass containers), and by show time, the beach feels like one big midweek party.
This past gorgeous Wednesday, we saw Tim McLoone & The Shirleys perform rock and Americana to a record crowd of over 8,000 people. The children dug a giant hole at our feet while we grown-ups sipped vodka flavored ice tea and swayed in our seats.
Then, when the band took a break, the kids went back in the ocean and I bought a ticket for the super 50/50. That’s how the Sandy Hook Foundation funds these free concerts, which they’ve been putting on for the last 17 years. Each week a lucky winner pockets anywhere from $2,000 to over seven grand (this week’s 50/50 was for $7,825, another record). So come armed with cash. I’ve yet to win, but I know it’s just a matter of time ...
When the band came back on, we took our weekly jaunt to the dance floor, where we bopped and watched the kids dive into their own makeshift, sandy mosh pit. Last year, at a Quincy Mumford show, Jack won a prize for his crazy dance moves, most notably his attempt at a handstand.
The concert was over by 8, then we played in the surf some more as the parking lot emptied out. Hanging at the beach as it gets dark doesn’t just feel like summer, it feels like you’re on vacation. Do this once a midweek and that whole grown up job thing won’t suck quite so much.
The French spend all of August on holiday. Why can’t we Americans have Summer Wednesdays?
Sandy Hook Beach Concerts: Every Wednesday at 6 pm through August 24, Beach E, Free after 4 p.m.
Bring: Coolers and alcohol – Yes
Glass containers – No
Cash for the 50/50 – Definitely!
Garbage bag to take your own trash home
There: Snack Bar