Quickly, before the last remaining hours of pleasant summer laziness could slip away, thousands of area residents made their way this weekend to the nearest beach or park or quiet spot for a final taste of relaxation.
Some of the spots they chose were not so quiet, however.
In Ocean City, where police have come to expect wild end-of-summer parties every year, the brouhaha that developed this weekend was the biggest and most troublesome in recent memory, according to police Capt. James Lockard.
The early-morning fracas ended with the rrest Sunday of nine people ranging in age from 18 to 28 - all apparently participants in an end-of-summer celebration in which 300 or more people were partying in front of the Eagle condominium on the Bay side of the city, Lockard said.
About 200,000 people had crowded into the ocean resort to enjoy the holiday weekend, but police reported that yesterday's crowds were light as people ignored the good weather and started home to get ready for their fall routines of work and school.
Elsewhere, closer in to the metropolitan area, things were somewhat quieter. Yesterday, as temperatures hovered in the low 80s under a clear sky - perfect picnic weather - local parks gradually started to bustle with crowds out to enjoy the final moments of the holiday weekend.
The parks, however, were not overflowing. At Great Falls Park in Virginia about 2,000 people showed up - less than a normal summer Sunday crowd, one park official said.
"We came to the park early because we expected a lot of people, but so far its not as bad as we expected," said one University of Maryland student. He and his friends had come out for "the nice, clean, fresh air," he said.
While people were enjoying themselves at local parks and beaches, area police and fire officials reported little activity by late yesterday afternoon. One police dispatcher in Arlington said yesterday was a "real quiet holiday."
State police in Maryland and Virginia reported that traffic was "moderate" throughout the day, but said they were braced for a possible rush during the late evening and night when the majority of holiday travelers would be headed home.
Officer Stephen Riaj, of the Maryland State Toll Facility at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, said traffic on the bridge was "heavy" yesterday afternoon but had been flowing smoothly. Toll facility officials were expecting about 45,000 cars to use the bridge yesterday, less than the 55,000 to 60,000 that cross it during extremely busy holidays such as the Fourth of July Riaj said.
"It's been right slow all weekend for a big holiday," Riaj said. "It's really not one of our bigger weekends for traffic."
Pat Chitwood, duty officer at Dulles International Airport, said yesterday was "kind of mediocre" at the airport, with "light to medium" passenger traffic. Traffic also was "slow" at Washington National Airport, airport officials said.
For many of the people out in search of relaxation yesterday, much of the signifcance of the holiday was lost. Most considered it just another day off work and the end of the summer season.
"I don't think it (the holiday) has much to do with labor," Joe Brown of Alexandria said while enjoying an outing at Great Falls Park with his family. "It means the day before school starts. It means the end of the summer. You never forget that feeling of the end of the summer."
"I like that feeling of the rythm of going back to school, even if I don't go anymore," Brown's wife Karen added.
So the people did not worry about the labor problems of the day, instead they barbecued hamburgers, played football and frisbie and sunned on the rocks, anticipating that cool autumn and icy winter.
"It's a day off from work . . . a day to see the summer end," said Coleen Sheets of Falls Church. "When Labor Day comes around I know the summer's over."