Back in the day, before Cape Charles held Festive Fridays, the community would come together in early December to kick off the holiday season with the Historic Cape Charles Progressive Dinner. Each year, several historic homes were featured, and during the course of the evening, guests would visit each one. The homes would be decorated for the season, and each would offer food, drink, and good cheer, all provided by local eateries such as Kelly’s Pub and the Cape Charles Coffee House, as well as local bakers, watermen and other food artisans.
The sidewalks would have a trail of votive candle lights that would light the path through town, and in many cases there would be folks that would talk to the historic signifigance of the homes.
Each year would have a theme such as the 1950s, or the early settlers of Cape Charles. A short play or skit based on the theme would be performed at each location. In the early to mid 2000s, buses would bring visitors from across the Bay just to partake in the event.
Not sugar coat it, the event was very complex and a nightmare to plan and execute. In many ways, planning for the next season began after the last home was visited. The next set of houses had to be chosen, and owners would have to buy in, and then a theme had to be agreed upon. Then there would be the planning the meals and who would be preparing what type of food–it was also more complicated than it sounds. This was all done by volunteers.
The Progressive Dinner was a more quaint, laid back affair, but it was a true community endeavor that truly focused on the shared love a little bayside village during the best time of year.