Last night proved that Dewey isn’t all puke-in-the-bathroom—-a communal bonfire drew hundreds to the beach for free s’mores and good, clean fun. The background noise of adult conversation and giggling kids seemed to vindicate what town officials have been saying (with worried looks) for the past few months: Dewey is a family town.

To my surprise, it worked. The first chamber of commerce-sponsored bonfire night was an unqualified success, drawing over 300 people by the estimate of beach concessionaire David Lynam. As part of his contract with the town, Lynam was asked to provide beach chairs and s’mores fixings, but told he could charge; he decided not to.

“You know what? It just takes away from it,” he said.

Kate Bell, summer intern for the Rehoboth Beach—Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, let the show run itself. She watched kids twirl glow-ropes on the fire’s periphery, and trusted parents to keep an eye on their children while fireside. A grad student studying International Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of South Carolina, Bell seemed coolly surprised by the crowd.

“It supports the notion that you can have families and college students in the same space,” she said, speaking of the two groups as if they were different species.

It’s not as if the party dynamo didn’t switch off—-it was still thrumming along a block away, a band cranking out noise from the Bottle & Cork while games of beer pong filled backyards up and down the side streets. But you couldn’t feel the bass, standing on the beach. You couldn’t hear it. It was distant enough to be nonexistent, and watching a little girl pick gooey marshmallow off a stick with her fingers and teeth, you didn’t miss the taste of gin.

But I swear I saw a few eyes wander to the dunes.