Summer in the Lowcountry doesn’t end on Labor Day

Labor Day beachgoers bask in the late summer sun at Coligny Beach Park on Sept. 5, 2016.
Labor Day beachgoers bask in the late summer sun at Coligny Beach Park on Sept. 5, 2016.

Summer is just about over, especially for many visitors to the area, but some of the local beachgoers are saying their summer is only just beginning.

Labor Day weekend is typically filled with outdoor games, barbecues and music as the summer starts to wind down. With Tropical Storm Hermine out of the way, folks flocked to the beach on Monday for a breezy and not unbearably hot day in the sand.

All sorts of beach folk could be spotted on Monday, soaking up the sun and enjoying a day — or a week — off.

The ‘last hoorah’

Patti Leskov was lounging on a Hilton Head Island beach, talking with her sister and her mom while their husbands chatted under the shade of some umbrellas a couple yards away. The family is visiting from Middletown, N.J., Leskov said, and was celebrating their “last hoorah” of the summer. This year, they came without the kids, who are working, starting college or taking care of newborns.

The family has been coming back to Hilton Head every couple of years for the last 30 years, Leskov said. They usually coming in July or August, but this year they aimed a little bit later, hoping to miss the bulk of the traffic on the island. Last year, Leskov said they spent the Fourth of July here and got stuck in what seemed like endless traffic. Now, they’re planning to come at the very beginning or the very end of the season, to avoid another vacation in the car.

Recently retired

Another seasoned visitor to Hilton Head, recently retired teacher Linda Levy, said she’s starting this school year on the beach instead of in the classroom. She and her husband have been coming down every so often from their home near Philadelphia to visit the condo they’ve owned for 30 years. Usually, the pair would try to come down the week or two before school starts back up in Pennsylvania — the day after Labor Day — but now, she has all the time in the world.

This time last year, Levy was enjoying her last day of vacation before a new year with new students and new challenges. On Tuesday, a group of retired teachers will be gathering for lunch back home to celebrate the new school year and reminisce. Levy said she’s excited to be retired and possibly spend some holidays down here in the years to come. Once her husband joins her in retirement, Levy said they make Hilton Head Island their permanent home.

Still happy couple

Carol and Terry Neal from Twinsburg, Ohio, are down in the Lowcountry celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary this week. They’ve been regular visitors to Hilton Head for the last 20 years or so, Carol Neal said. They’re not strictly summer guests, though. The Neals come down all times of the year, depending on when they can get away.

This very special trip for them started out with an intimidating drive through Tropical Storm Hermine on their Friday arrival. It was “well worth the harrowing experience,” though. Now, they’re planning to just relax and enjoy the beach and each others’ company, Carol Neal said.

Long weekend pair

On the local side of things, Debbie Castelli and Darren Potter, of Bluffton, were simply enjoying their long weekend. They went to St. Simon’s Island over the weekend but had to put up with some rain, they said. After a beautiful, sunny day at the beach on Monday, Castelli said they were planning to go home and have a barbecue, traditional Labor Day style.

“I wish it could last forever,” Castelli said of summer. Potter countered that it’s not really the end of summer. Soon the beach crowd demographic will shift as kids go back to school and vacationers head back home. Locals like these two will get their turn on the beach once things start to cool off and quiet down a bit, he said. So really, it’s just the beginning of the summer.

Just the beginning

Another local family was gearing up for the start of their beach season, as well. The Tamminens — Tom and Phyllis and their son and daughter-in-law Mac and Heather — live in Bluffton, and the younger two teach at local schools. They usually spend their summers traveling or busy with this and that, Mac Tamminen said. Now, they’re just getting out to the beach as the crowds start to thin out and the sun isn’t quite as hot.

Starting Tuesday, they’ll even be able to bring their dogs with them to the beach as the tourist season begins to slow, so the pups can enjoy the summer as well.

There are technically a few more weeks of summer on the calendar. But here on island time, summer is really just a state of mind.

Joan McDonough: 843-706-8125, @IPBG_Joan