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Ever since I was a year old, my family has spent a portion of its summers in Avalon. And with varying levels of distress, I’ve watched the town grow from a sleepy beach village to what’s fast becoming East Hampton South.

At first, we rented a series of homes on 39th Street. Then my dad found the parcel he’d been looking for on Bayberry Drive, then a mishmash of high dunes, empty sandlots perfect for wiffle ball, and a smattering of homes.

Now, folks drive down Bayberry simply to gawk at the hermetically sealed opulence of mini-mansion after mini-mansion. As for our place, it had a weathered, beachy look, no A/C, not a blade of sod and the remains of an old skateboard ramp out back. In other words, it was a teardown.

One August afternoon eight years ago, I gazed at the home for sale across the street. Who should catch my eye but Oprah Winfrey—with her real estate agent. Months later, my father sold our “teardown” and bought some land in Avalon Manor, a tiny community nestled in the wetlands along the road leading to Seven Mile Island. From my family’s new deck, the sunsets are spectacular, and the bird watching first-class. We also take more than a little satisfaction in viewing from afar the jam-ups along the two-lane causeway to Avalon on busy summer weekends.

Now, if only we could get down there more often. A weekend here, a weekend there. We wish it was more, but life gets in the way. My wife and I both work full-time, and many of her hours come on weekends. So it’s often up to me to find fun things to do with our 5-year-old daughter. That was partly the inspiration behind this year’s Summer Fun Guide, which offers 37 great entertainment options close to home—or at least nowhere near the Shore. For more to do, check out our Main Events section and online calendar.

NICE WORK: Last month, Main Line Today’s Mark E. Dixon was presented with the 2008 Preservation Award from the Heritage Commission of Delaware County for his monthly history column, Retrospect. The commission honored Dixon for his “efforts over the past five years in bringing history to the public … while demonstrating its relevance to the issues of today.”

And the fantastic work illustrator Dewey Saunders did for our June 2007 Living Well section (pictured) was a winner in the prestigious 48th annual Communication Arts Illustration Competition. It will be featured in the 2008 Illustration Annual, with more than 70,000 copies distributed worldwide.

Congrats to both.

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