Ducats to a sporting event could not be purchased.
There was another reason people waited outside Perryville town hall in the wee hours of the morning Friday, January 2.
The 25 out-of-state permits go on sale for $50 at 8 a.m. on the first business day after New Year's Day. The weather is usually cold but the permits are a hot commodity.
It's an annual rite of passage for many of the visitors and usually the only time they see one another. They congregate in the parking lot behind town hall.
"It's craziest thing I've ever seen," town employee Michelle Yackanech said.
Paul Robinson of Coatesville arrived at about 6 a.m. and was 15th on the sign-in sheet that is handed to people when they get to the parking lot.
He was 21st last year after getting there at 7, which was too close for comfort. "I figured I'd better get there an hour earlier," Robinson said.
He was relieved to have made it in plenty of time. "It feels pretty good but it's not like I wasn't going to boat if I didn't get one," he said.
Robinson prefers to launch his boat from Perryville for a variety of reasons. "It's convenient and the facilities, ramp, and dock are nice," he said.
He passed the time by listening to Ravens talk on his truck radio which he didn't particularly enjoy since he's an Eagles fan.
The annual event is a family affair for the Bare siblings – brother Kevin and sister Sheila.
Kevin, of Peach Bottom, Pa., was sixth on the list while Sheila, of Nottingham, Pa., was seventh. They drove separately, arriving at about 4 a.m. They waited together in Kevin's truck which allowed them some quality bonding time and a chance to gossip about their family members who were able to sleep in but will still benefit from Kevin and Sheila's industriousness by riding in their boats.
They have been coming to Perryville for 10 years. "It's a nice boat ramp and a great location on the mouth of the river," Kevin said. He enjoys visiting Chesapeake City and Havre de Grace as well as the Nauti Goose restaurant in North East. "Everything is right here," he says. "And you can put your boat in the water without messing up your prop. Other places aren't deep enough."
Sheila likes the ramp's proximity to Garrett Island. She also enjoys the annual ritual of waiting.
"This is my thing," she said.
She learned the hard way. "The first year I came at 8 and they were all gone," she said.
While Robinson was listening to the radio and the Bare siblings were catching up, Leigh Hyatt was taking a little nap.
Hyatt, of Strasburg, Pa., is somewhat of a legend. In recent years, he's always at the top of the list. He arrived just after midnight this year.
"I just didn't go to sleep," he said after his siesta. "I work nights so I'm used to that. It's no big deal."
It's all worth it. "Perryville has an awesome ramp," Hyatt said. "It's the best and you don't have to wait in line. It's a clean facility and I've never seen it full."
He also says the $50 price tag is "very reasonable".
Hyatt has just one complaint.
"I'd like to see them change things a little so I don't have to do this insanity," he said.
Hyatt credits Sheila Bare with coming up with the idea of having a sign-in sheet. "One year there was a melee," Hyatt said. "It got a little ugly and the police had to come." The list also allows people to wait in their car and stay warm.
"As soon as I see the second person come I pass the list off and to go sleep," said Hyatt. Between naps, he reads emails.
Tim Taggart of Coatesville was on the other end of the spectrum. He was unlucky number 26. Taggart, who was told of the process by his friend, Paul Robinson, arrived a little after 7.
He stuck around, hoping one of the 25 people in front of him might not have the proper credentials to get a ramp permit. By 8:20, he learned everyone else had come prepared. Taggart went home empty-handed.
Asked when he would arrive for next year's festivities, he said, simply, "Hopefully a little earlier."