DOVER — Even with the rain and the mud, the energy was good, campers at Firefly agreed.
“It’s good energy, even with the rain. I like hearing everyone come back out as it slows down. You can hear everyone emerge; the music gets a little bit louder,” Alyssa Seaman, 21, of Pennsylvania said.
The four-day festival, returned after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, experienced some bumps in the road as it made its return to the Woodlands in Dover. Consistent rain in the morning and flood advisories in the area postponed gate opening times from 3 to 7:30 p.m.
“It’s been interesting. We had to hunker down earlier in the pouring rain,” Ms. Seaman said. “The vibes have been really good though. Our neighbors made us espresso. Just trying to make the best of the weather.”
She and 21-year-old Paige Rychalsky, also of Pennsylvania, were first-time Firefly festivalgoers. While camping is nothing new for Ms. Seaman, it’s a whole new experience for Ms. Rychalsky.
“I had to buy a sleeping bag for this, but it hasn’t been that bad,” she said.
“I think it brings you together with more people. They’re your neighbors for the weekend. You’re not only meeting them at your favorite artist, you’re sitting with them and eating meals with them and getting to know them,” Ms. Seaman said. “I think it just elevates the fun. I’m in college, and it kind of brings the college vibe because you bond with your neighbors in school. I just think it’s the social aspect.”
Ms. Rychalsky agreed. “It makes you feel like you’re a community, since you’re sleeping here together for four days.”
It was already a similar story for Nahian Khan, 25, of Connecticut. He’s a first-time festivalgoer, and a second-time camper, but the experience of hunkering down in the rain wasn’t that bad because they have good neighbors, he said.
“We were able to really bond with them,” he said, adding later, “Being in such forced close proximity with others is really building this sense of community.”
Though he and his friends were all tired when they arrived around 1 a.m. early Thursday morning and just wanted to sleep, he said they were glad they set up camp and waterproofed their items yesterday.
“It ended up being a very good idea to do that,” he noted.
Delaware natives Teddy Reed, 21, and Cody Stewart, 21, were also first-time campers.
A perk of camping with a large group of friends is not having to park and find each other in the festival grounds, Mr. Reed said.
“I think honestly because you’re here all day, and you sleep here, it’s almost like a home for four days,” he added.
New Yorkers Alana Pecorelli, 24, Jessica Sarli, 25, and Bridget Sullivan, 25, are experienced campers, traveling with people who have never camped before.
“That’s rough,” Ms. Pecorelli said. “It’s a very new experience for them. It’s not just one night, it’s not just two nights — you’re here for a long time and you have to be ready for it.”
While it may not be for the faint of heart, it’s a way to connect with people.
“You’re very up close and personal with your neighbors,” she said.
“But you’re all here for the same thing,” Ms. Sullivan added. “It’s good to bond with people.”