By Cherimie Crane Weatherford
In present society where the definition of social has morphed into one-sided conversations with a photo and a screen, our sleepy little town reminds us of the joys of face-to-face, value in congregation and powerful pull of the sea.
Few occasions show human nature, soul simplicity and signs of a gentler time more than when a city celebrates as one.
One of those rare wrinkles in time belongs to none other than the Beaufort Water Festival. If you question the power of a social contagion, or the beauty of human nature, pack up your pessimism, sit back and absorb the enigma that is our beloved annual festival.
Watch stress-drained men trade in the business suits for the lighter weight of board shorts, well-meaning moms 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 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, folly and wardrobe faux pas.
Greetings change from the required and rote “How are you?” to an enthusiastic “Happy Water Festival!” Days turn to nights, nights turn to stories and those stories turn into folklore.
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 the Water Festival is the great equalizer.
The only division is whether your chicken is a six piece and your swimsuit a two. 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 60s will shag under the stars toe-to-toe with a pair at 16. 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. Music echoes off our shores as life happens under the stars.
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. It’s time to celebrate all that we are and all that we love.
Happy Water Festival Beaufort South Carolina from my family to yours!
Cherimie Crane Weatherford, owner of SugarBelle boutique, real estate broker and observer of all things momentous and mundane, lives on Lady’s Island with her golfing husband, dancing toddler and lounging dogs.