They're gone. Well, most of 'em, anyway. This is the "day after" aspect of the Hackie column of 5/30/07, "Pomp and Circumstance."
The three largest local colleges hold their graduation ceremonies in ascending order of their respective sizes: first comes Champlain; next St. Michael's; with UVM providing the big finish. They're here; they're here; they're here; and then - literally, overnight - they're gone!
The Monday after Sunday's UVM graduation is a yearly revelation. Like the couple who, having shipped their youngest child off to college, looks around the house in amazement and lets out a huge, "Whew!", the Burlington community experiences the yearly out-migration of 20,000 students as a similar release from a type of two-sided bondage.
We need these students; their salutary effect on the region's economy can scarcely be overstated. But, man - things sure do quiet down when they split! I'm referring not so much to the numbers of people in town, but the energy level. Let's face it: 18-21 year-olds are intense. On the day they leave, the average age on the downtown streets goes up about eight years. (These are all, of course, scientific numbers.)
Which raises the number-one misconception about the local taxi industry. While the students account for a huge slice of the fares during the fall, winter and spring, business is actually busier during the summer months when they're away, at least for us independent cabbies. This seems counter-intuitive, but Burlington rocks all summer long with weddings, business conferences, festivals and tourists of all stripes. Plus, the locals, who might go out once a month during the long, cold winters, seem to hit the town almost nightly once the weather gets truly inviting.
P.S. Anyone who caught the homage to the old Rolling Stones song, "Good-bye Ruby Tuesday," in the title of this entry gets hackie extra-credit.