Waiting For Summer

New Jersey has 130 miles of beaches.

I can’t say “pristine beaches” because, well, what the Atlantic Ocean has given forth onto some of the beaches is pretty well documented.

Things have gotten better, though, and there is still a lot of coastline to see and explore.

And with Memorial Day Weekend – and the unofficial start of summer – nearly here, our beaches and coastline are ready to explode.

Here in New Jersey, we often see two types of summers: One is the hot, humid, your-shirt-sticks-to-the-back-of-your-car seat-even-with-the-AC-on type, or a cooler, wetter summer dotted with showers.
In either case, whichever summertime hits, there are a great number of dusty beach towns that will open their doors – and their bars – to all who arrive.

Beach Haven, Ocean Grove, Point Pleasant, Ocean City, Margate, Atlantic City, Cape May…

From the beaches of North Jersey all the way down through South Jersey, each town has its own unique identity.

Some are steeped in the deep financial pockets of the wealthy families that have vacationed there since before the turn of the century.

Others are happy to be fishing towns…or family towns…or party towns.

Whatever brings in the enough money during a short window of opportunity to help keep these towns going when the bitter winter winds start to blow up and down their boardwalks and sand dunes.

Seaside Heights, Exit 82 off the Garden State Parkway has been welcoming beach goers way long before Snooki, JWoww, and The Situation signed up to spend their summers there (and in doing so, nicely trashed not only themselves but the term “Jersey Shore” as well.)

When I recently visited this seaside community, I didn’t find TV cameras or rowdiness. What I found was a beach town waiting for summer to start.

It was a windy, chilly, foggy day on the boards. There was a line of people – decidedly non-TV types – lined up on the boardwalk hoping to snag a few still-open positions with the many establishments on the boardwalk. These were folks who were looking to make ends meet, not end up on the cover of People magazine. No glitz and glamor here.

Just people looking for a pay check.

The town seemed to be still waking up from a long winter. For Rent signs were still in some of the cottages. The boardwalk shops were open, but just by a little bit. The hawkers were trying to get me to pop the balloon with a dart, or swish a basketball. Even tried to give some freebies to Olivia.

Almost seemed like dry run for the upcoming summer season.

That day, I saw a town that was nearly empty. Beginning this weekend, it’s population will swell to double what the average is. Every weekend till Labor Day. Cocktails would be drunk, nearly obscene t-shirts would be bought and tans would be earned.

Hopefully paychecks too.

Because soon, another summer season would be behind this beach town and the cold winter winds would blow again.

Then Seaside Heights will start waiting for summer again.

Slideshow music provided by the Asbury Park-based instrumental rock band Chemtrail. Download their free EP, including this song, The King, on their website here.

© Mark V. Krajnak 2012 | JerseyStyle Photography | All rights Reserved

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