Tumbleweed Tuesday

East Hampton has suffered the sour fruit of its own popularity

Go ahead, make a left. Make two, if you want. It’s September! Tumbleweed Tuesday, some call it, the day after Labor Day when we East Hamptoners get our town back. It is a day for celebration, as they did in Montauk with a live band and cookout on the downtown green. But when you think about it, there is a rather depressing notion at its core — that for the preceding three months locals have too often felt like strangers in their own hometown.

This year more than most, East Hampton has suffered the sour fruit of its own popularity. Sure, certain businesses were booming, notably Montauk’s bars and restaurants and places that sold carry-out beer, but others, like a furnishings shop in Sag Harbor whose owner we spoke with the other day, have been looking forward to this month eagerly. Short-term renters and the day-trippers who mobbed that village and the various hamlets this year do not spend money on her duvet covers, hand-sewn pillowcases, and the like; residents and second-home owners who emerge about now actually do. It is a sea change, she said.

We hope local officials will think long and hard about how to make the weeks of the high season more like this one, when peace returns. With important town elections coming up in Southampton and East Hampton, moving the clock back to a more civilized time is something each candidate should be pressed about. Tumbleweed Tuesday should be a model for how we like the rest of the year, not a passing reward for putting up with a summer’s worth of nuisances.