A Whiff of Christmas Soul

The old decorations were mismatched and tacky, according to some people. But how could you not like an orange starfish, a bright white scallop, and a big red seahorse? Or cherry trees tarted up in those old fashioned big multi-colored lights? And setting the mood was this extraordinarily loud Christmas music piped all over downtown until around midnight. Late on a cold December night, when nobody else was around, I swear you’d feel like you were on some sort of a movie set.

That was Rehoboth Beach at Christmastime. Before the upgrades a few years back. Before the new lampposts twined with lights and greenery. Before the big Christmas tree at the bandstand at the end of Rehoboth Avenue.

Yeah, they’re nice. Now that the City has spent millions of dollars upgrading its main street, I suppose it’s only logical that it should improve its holiday decorations too. But for me, these new decorations lack soul. They’re tasteful and safe, like the stuff you buy in the Pottery Barn.

It used to be that all the decorations for each block were hooked up to one big plug in the median strip. It buzzed and crackled. Unsafe! Unsafe! If you unplugged it, the entire block went dark. I learned this from a Jewish friend, who, emboldened by bourbon, pulled the plug on Christmas — something she’d always wanted to do.

So what happens to old Christmas decorations when a municipality purchases new ones? Do they end up on people’s yards? In landfills? Or on the lampposts of smaller towns without holiday decorating budgets?

Rehoboth’s ended up on the boardwalk. At least about a dozen of them did, including the starfish, the scallop, and the seahorse. So if you’re looking for some real Christmas soul this season, I suggest you take a stroll on the Boardwalk. After all, nothing says Christmas like tacky decorations. And the smell of French fries.

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