Sea Isle City’s “Chatterbox Chix” recently celebrated their 20th anniversary on the weekend of Oct. 18, 2018. Festivities included a delicious special brunch at Shoobie’s, shopping at Stone Harbor, Avalon and Sea Isle City, followed by a beautiful eastern shore sunset and a wonderful celebratory dinner at the Sunset Pier.
One weekend in October for the last 20 years, the quaint little seaside cottage on 93rd Street named “The Chatterbox” comes alive with day-timers and weekenders seeking escape from stressful jobs and household routines. They come from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Florida, Arizona and California to attend Pat Leonard’s Girls Weekend in Sea Isle City.
This tradition actually started in 1935 with Dorothy Hay (Aunt Dot), the original owner of The Chatterbox. Dorothy, a physical education teacher at the P.S. DuPont High School in Wilmington, Del., hosted a beach day for her female students who wanted a sun-kissed look for their prom. Continuing through years, it became a yearly reunion of former students until she moved to Florida full time.
Pat’s family, relatives of Aunt Dot, later acquired ownership of The Chatterbox. Similarly, in 1999, Pat continued Aunt Dot’s Chatterbox tradition beginning with four women, light snacks and wine. This grew into an annual event as the attendees were a combination of Pat’s lifelong college and work friends from various jobs. Laughter and fun abounded with silly antics which included show and tell of purchases, determining the biggest spender and upscale dining with “Billy Bob” teeth. The last person who arrives for meals gets serenaded with a Happy Birthday chorus and results in the offender wearing a princess tiara during the meal.
They enjoyed quiet, early morning walks on the deserted beach, invigorating outdoor showers, homemade special goodies, Pat’s signature happy hour, the lure of the local restaurants and shops, “shopping coaches,” night clubbing, and “group therapy” as their endless “chatter” included the sharing of personal challenges and celebrating life’s successes. Long before The Bachelor aired on TV, the women all received a long-stemmed rose as a parting gift from Pat’s husband who wisely left town upon the arrival of the first guest. The Chatterbox Chix are looking forward to continuing the legacy of The Chatterbox for many years ahead, “where friends meet friends and make new friends.”