There were hugs and tears at a Tumbleweed Tuesday celebration sponsored by the Montauk Chamber of Commerce on the downtown green. But the show of emotion was not a happy one celebrating the end of the season and the departure of the tourists — it was pure grief over the death on Monday of Carl Darenberg, a member of the Montauk chamber and all-around chronicler of Montauk life.
The close-knit community has been hit hard with the news of his death. Known for taking pictures at almost every event and weekend party, Mr. Darenberg was also a significant presence on Facebook. Weekend partyers anxiously visited his Facebook page on Mondays to see if their pictures had been posted. As of yesterday, his Facebook page had more than 1,000 pictures posted and was full of glowing testaments to him, with many thanking him for his help over the years.
In recent years as Montauk became more of a surfing mecca focused on the downtown area and ocean beaches, Mr. Darenberg made it his mission to get people back to the harbor area, as it had been all but forgotten by tourists. And he helped establish an annex of the chamber’s building on Main Street to honor the history of the fishing industry. His mission was accomplished, with barely a parking spot available near the docks on summer weekends.
The expression Tumbleweed Tuesday was born years ago when it was said that the day after Labor Day only tumbleweeds could be seen blowing through the near-empty town. At Tuesday’s celebration, which was dedicated to Mr. Darenberg, the Nancy Atlas Project played his favorite song, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” which has the lyric “?’Cause every little thing gonna be all right.” Ms. Atlas then raised a red Solo cup of cheer toward the sky and asked the crowd to join her, saying that he would be missed and is at peace.
As tears ran down her cheeks, Laraine Creegan, the chamber’s executive director, who worked closely on numerous projects with Mr. Darenberg, said there was never any thought given to canceling the event. “Carl loved a party,” she said. “He would never have wanted us to cancel it.”