Hamptons locals eagerly await Tumbleweed Tuesday

Passangers prepare to board the Hampton Jitney in

Passangers prepare to board the Hampton Jitney in Bridgehampton. (Sept. 1, 2013) (Credit: Johnny Milano)

East End residents gathered at the Blue Collar Bar in Southampton plan to commemorate the end of summer tourist season -- and the departure of seasonal residents -- by celebrating Tumbleweed Tuesday, as the day after Labor Day is locally known.

No more urgent calls to get the air conditioner fixed. Not another demand that the pool be kept at a steady 90 degrees.

The joke is that to mark the end of the summer season, everyone will go out and make a whole bunch of left turns -- something that has been a chore for the past three months in the Hamptons, said Nicole Locher, 28, a bartender at the Blue Collar Bar.

As the summer crowds start to leave on Labor Day weekend, year-round residents of the Hamptons are letting out a sigh of relief.

"You can feel the whole place get less stressful," Locher said.

The Hamptons have bustled and boomed this summer, according to many accounts. Beaches have been packed. Stores reported strong sales. And celebrities from Justin Bieber to Bill Clinton made appearances.

Those who live in East End communities admit that the second-home visitors drive the economy, pay taxes, keep people employed and make the place exciting.

But summer isn't all about open wallets and beautiful people. Prices at stores jump, locals say. Lines at the coffee shops spill out the door. Surfers' waves get crowded by amateurs.

The most commonly heard complaints are about traffic. With a couple of accidents that closed major arteries for hours, travel was an acute headache this year, residents said.

"I appreciate the summer people. I love their energy, the excitement, the events," said Patrick McLaughlin, a real estate agent and East Hampton resident. "But this is not a vacation resort for some of us, and we have to live our lives."

Summer residents are "our bread and butter," he acknowledged, but the influx of vehicles can mean an hour to drive the 13 miles between East Hampton and Southampton in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Years ago, locals began referring to the day after the long Labor Day weekend as Tumbleweed Tuesday because, they quipped, the community became so empty a tumbleweed could roll down Main Street. It has become a common expression throughout the area as locals celebrate September's arrival.

For many year-round residents, the end of summer means work.

David Steiber, 58, a contractor in the hamlet of North Sea, welcomed less traffic and being able to enjoy his favorite coffee shop and bakery again, but noted he'll be busy. The seasonal part-time residents don't want construction on their houses to take place during the summer.

"They want to enjoy their three months in heaven," he said.

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