Fun Trumps Everything
The philosophy and times of Carol Everhart.
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Indeed, Everhart’s influence—whether directly or indirectly—can be seen at events like the 21st Annual Rehoboth Beach Autumn Jazz Festival, and the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, which, since its inception in 1998, has offered screenings of more than 100 features, documentaries and shorts.
But it’s taken 21 years to get here, Everhart points out. Following her success with Sea Witch, she took a full-time position as the chamber’s marketing director, a post she held for seven years before stepping up to president. Her vision was grand, even if the gears of change clicked ever so slowly.
“One thing I learned early on was that, even though the location was perfectly accommodating to growth and return visits in the fall and winter, Rehoboth and Dewey had not experienced that kind of growth before,” she says. “And I quickly learned that I had to gain permission to do almost anything.”
Everhart recalls wanting to host a square dance on the boardwalk. What she thought would be a simple event to plan turned into “a major issue.” Or consider the Easter Promenade, an event that had been an institution after more than 50 straight years. When Everhart suggested that it be shuttered due to waning interest and participation, she was met with some resistance.
“Did it have community support? Yes. Was it meeting our goals? No. But we took the energy that went into that event and turned it into the Sandcastle Contest,” says Everhart. “It wasn’t that the community was opposed to these changes or this kind of growth. They just hadn’t thought about it that way before.”
Which is why Everhart became an expert in baby stepping. She learned early on that her vision for Rehoboth and Dewey was not going to be realized overnight. It would be an evolution that required deliberate, delicate movement that balanced the needs of the business community and the character of the area and its people.
“I have a very big patience button,” Everhart says with a chuckle. “You need to be very patient. And you also need to be willing to share the credit.”
Hearn, who once served as chair of the Rehoboth-Dewey chamber, has been witness to Everhart’s patience and diplomacy on many occasions during his 20-plus years in Rehoboth Beach.
“She has this ability to get her ideas and projects across to people and to get those people working together toward the same point without coercion,” says Hearn. “Carol will talk you into something, and you don’t even realize you’ve been talked into it.”
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