By Cherimie Crane Weatherford
In a society where the definition of social has morphed into one sided conversations with a photo and a screen, our little town reminds us of the joys of face-to-face. Few occasions show human nature, soul simplicity, and the basic being that allow a peak through the window of the unbridled original. One of those rare wrinkles in time belongs to none other than the Beaufort Water Festival. If you doubt the potential of pure personality, or the power of true colors, pack up your pessimism, sit back and absorb the enigma that is our beloved Beaufort Water Festival.
Watch stress-drained men trade in the business suits for the lighter weight of board shorts, well-meaning mom’s trade in fabric stitched in obligation and patterned in responsibility for skin-baring bikinis that replace years with youth and vitality. Even if just for a few hours, maybe even a few days, the shrimper, the crabber, the lawyer and the preacher become simply Beaufortonians. The shackles of roles and responsibility merge into rivers of freedom and folly. Greetings change from the required and rote “How are you?” to an enthusiastic “Happy Water Festival!” Days turn to nights and nights turn to stories over coffee.
Time clocks and time sheets become a bit more forgiving. Differences disperse as the winds of well-wishes blow forth. Blue collar, white collar inevitably becomes no collar as Water Festival is the great equalizer. The worry over current events, the weight of a world longing for laughter and the reality that tomorrow brings battles of varying degree all take reprieve on a blanket in the park.
A couple in their sixties will shag under the stars toe-to-toe with a pair at sixteen. Long love, new love, renewed love finds itself along the water’s edge. Visitors question their own way of life as they observe with envy the sweet, slow summer nights that lead to warm mornings full of events and celebration that showcase that which can’t be simulated, only experienced.
Land-locked laments fade as toes and woes submerge in saltwater and sand. Focus on troubles take second place to focus on tides. Desk chairs empty and deck chairs fill. Quiet souls who hide behind societal norms unite on the sandbar to shine like polished pennies. Monday morning will come soon enough. There will be plenty of time to excuse away momentary mishaps and questionable quandaries. For now, let your hair down, lift your spirits, ditch the shoes, lose the shirt, tap dance through the day, shag through the night, and douse the day-to-day dread with real life, real moments, and real smiles. Happy Water Festival Y’all!!