Weâ€™re almost there–almost to the peak summer season. Memorial Day Weekend, which is the official start of the summer season, was by all accounts, good . . . very, very good. But Memorial Day is just an indicator and compared to what it will be like on the Outer Banks in mid July–well, itâ€™s like the dawn of what will hopefully be a perfect day. Beautiful sunrise, and with any luck the rest of the day will consist of warm sunshine, gentle breezes, very few clouds and no rain.
The real season, the time when things really go crazy, begins in the third week in June, coinciding nicely with Fatherâ€™s Day. Thatâ€™s when schools in the Northeast get out (North Carolina schools finish a week earlier) and the family vacations can really begin.
There is a certain amount of comfort in the cyclical nature of things. Job security, and that does add to the comfort levels, but mostly there is the thought that this is a good place to live and the key industry is thriving.
Not everyone agrees that having 300,000 – 350,000 visitors come and go every week is a good thing. There are folks who have retired down here and maybe they didnâ€™t do as much research as they should have on just what life on the Outer Banks would be like, and some of those folks seem a bit grumpy when traffic slows to a crawl on the Bypass and the supermarkets are jammed with shoppers.
Just my observation, but in a lot of cases those are the same people who wanted the Food Lions, the Harris Teeters and the Starbucks–and if it wasnâ€™t for that summertime flood of visitors, none of that would be here.
There is a small commercial fishing industry on the Outer Banks, and they may be the only folks who live here who are not directly dependent on tourism to support themselves. But even they will tell you that without our visitors, things would be much more difficult. Itâ€™s much easier, after all, to sell your catch to a local restaurant or seafood market than to ship your catch off to New York or Philadelphia (which is a very important part of the industry too).
As an aside, Fishermanâ€™s Wharf is a great seafood restaurant right in the middle of the Wanchese docks, Wanchese being the major commercial fishing port on the Outer Banks. There are two other commercial docks on Hatteras Island, also–at Hatteras Village and a very small one in Avon.
Back to the point–for about 10 weeks, the Outer Banks explodes with things to do, family adventures, live music, nightlife. It truly goes from being a village to a city almost, it seems, overnight.
And then, about mid August, the college kids start going back to school, the school systems in the Northeast reopen and things begin to slow down. Not slow down all the way, because September and October have become really important parts of what we do here, but the magic of the summer becomes a memory until the following year.