Only on Hilton Head: After a busy, crowded summer, we're alone at last!

By Carmen Hawkins DeCecco
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It's festival season on the island, which gives many of us a reason to crawl out of our air-conditioned caves, yawn, stretch, shake off a summer of no-see-ums and sand grit, and head to Harbour Town, Honey Horn or Shelter Cove Park.

We live differently in the summer.

During the sweltering, torpid months of summer, those of us who live and work here spend our days standing or sitting at our desks, a full bottle of water attached to our hips, and regretting that moment at Happy Hour last February when we said the island was boring and empty.

At day's end, we race to our cars, hopefully before traffic hits the circles, and weave and dodge our way through partially-paved, back roads and parking lots -- passages known only to locals -- to do chores or make our way home.

We catch glimpses of one another and wave through broiling temperatures and sweat-melted mascara while we dash from car to grocery store. We try to make these trips before 4 p.m. Saturday -- check in times for vacation rentals and hotels. After four, it can be a mob scene.

Sometimes we see a neighbor at the beach between the hours of 6 and 10 a.m., smile furtively and check behind us to make sure we are ahead of family pod throngs.

Don't misunderstand. We love the tourists who visit us. It just nice, sometimes, to have the place to ourselves.

Now, we are entering the kick-back, reap-the-harvest, end-game, eat-and-sleep-all-day, play-all-night, season for which year-round residents live.

Here's what we have to look forward to:

Today: Harbour Town Fall Fest, Sea Pines Resort.
Oct. 3: Burgers and Brew Fest, Island Rec Center, Shelter Cove Park.
Oct. 10: Kiwanis Clubs of Hilton Head Island's 31st Annual Chili Cookoff, Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.
Oct. 14: A Zin Experience (Wine Festival), at the Omni Oceanfront Resort, hosted by the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head.
Oct. 17-18: Regatta Weekend on the Calibogue Sound, Harbour Town, Sea Pines Resort.
Oct. 30-Nov. 1: Concours d'Elegance Motor Festival. Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.
Nov. 13-15: Oyster Festival, Island Rec Center, Shelter Cove Park.
Oct. 25: Halloween on the Harbour; Harbour Town, Sea Pines Resort.
Nov. 6-8: Merchant Ivory Film Festival, Coligny Theater, (843) 686-3500
Nov. 13-15: Oyster Festival in Shelter Cove Community Park.
Nov. 28th: Caramel Apple Festival; Heritage Farm, Sea Pines Resort.
Nov. 28: Harbour Town Festival of Lights running through the holidays.
So, go ahead.

Make plans.

Enjoy yourself.

After all, it's just us now.

Carmen Hawkins De Cecco lives on Hilton Head Island. She blogs at