Celebrating Sundance - A last look at Sundance 2001
|by Murray Archibald|
|In many ways, Sundance is a lot like a child to Steve and me. We fret and worry over it as only parents (or two aging queens) could do. As the big event drew near, we prepared one another for the possibility that we might not raise quite as much money as last year. "The economy," Steve would say, "the weather," I would add, remembering last year's storm (and yet somehow forgetting that it made absolutely no difference to the devoted fans of Sundance). "What if we don't have enough auction items?" I would say every day until I'm sure Natalie Moss wanted to chop off my head and put it on the auction block. "What if we don't sell enough tickets?" I would moan, completely oblivious to the exasperated look on Kathy Weir's face as she lifted her weary head after taking another hundred telephone and web ticket orders. "What if...what if...what if..." I thought to myself as everything fell into place around me. "What if..." I thought one last time as I relaxed and accepted the inevitable fact that once again everything was going to be just fine.
Actually, everything was more than fine. Sundance 2001 set many new records for the event. The most important, of course, being the $165,000 raised for Sussex County AIDS Committee (60%), CAMP Rehoboth (30%), and the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center Project (10%). To reach that amount it took the hard work and combined effort of over 450 Sponsors, Supporters and Hosts; it took the work of 172 volunteers; and it took the 450 auction items generously donated by members of our community.
Sundance involves many people on many different levels. Whether buying a ticket or auction item, sponsoring or hosting the event, donating something for the auction, or just pitching in as a volunteer, it takes the communityall of usto make an event like this a success. Sundance has grown slowly over the years, and with it has grown a loyal and diverse base of support.
Sundance has become a tradition that marks the end of the summer. For me it has become a yearly marker, much like Christmas or Thanksgiving. And like those holidays, it is a time when we get together with a great big extended family. I love to see the mix of peoplegay, straight, young and oldat the auction and on the dance floor. It is a time for us all to come together one last time and celebrate the years of friendship that have grown out of our time in Rehoboth.
I have discovered over the years, that when I try to explain Rehoboth Beach and the connections we all have, I always fail. On a map, it's just another little beach resort. To those of us who come back year after year or who now call this place home, it is a unique and wonderful and gentle place. Which is why, I think, that Sundance feels the way it does. It is a time for people to give, to share, to celebrate, to laugh, to cry, and most of all, to dance the great dance of continuity that sews our lives together at the end of each passing summer. Every year there are a few faces missing, but there are always new ones to replace them, or old ones returning after a long absence.
As the dance came to a close this year, Steve and I suddenly found ourselves face to face on the dance floor, surrounded by friends. For a moment I was overcome by the sheer force of life and love and I buried by face in his neck and wept. "Are they good tears or bad tears?" he whispered anxiously. "Good," I muffled into the back of his shirt collar. "Oh, good," he sighed in relief, and we stood there quietly dancing the last dance and celebrating in our own quiet way the passage of another year, another summer, another Sundance, another milestone.
For Steve and me, it is still the anniversary party it has always been. But for all of us it is a celebration, a time of giving. In the days since Sundance ended, a terrible tragedy has befallen our country and our world. Life feels uncertain at the moment, and we are all anxious about what will happen in the coming days, weeks, months and years. But I am grateful to Sundance and to all the people who worked to make it happen, because it keeps me hopeful even in the face of darkness and despair.We never know when the bad times will come, which makes it important for us to celebrate with those we love every chance we get. To all of you who joined in this year's Sundance, I say thank you. I do not know what lies ahead for us all, but I do know that you have made a difference to me, and I believe, to the world around us.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 11, No. 13, September 21, 2001.