By Donald Wittkowski
The parties were over, the champagne glasses were empty, the ball had dropped and the fireworks were a pleasant memory.
So what else was there to do to welcome the arrival of 2019?
Hit the beach, perhaps?
For Cheryl Borysowski, there was no better way to celebrate New Year’s Day than to spend a quiet afternoon at the Jersey Shore.
As the temperatures climbed to a spring-like 62 degrees, Borysowski and her boyfriend, Jeff Behler, relaxed in their beach chairs just a few yards from the water’s edge in Sea Isle City.
“This is a real treat,” she said. “This is the best start to the new year, sitting on the beach.”
Borysowski, who lives in Macungie, Pa., bought a vacation home on 43rd Street in Sea Isle last year. Behler, of Kempton, Pa., was down in Sea Isle for the holiday to help Borysowski with some home repairs.
Taking a break from the house work, they sat on the 43rd Street beach, savoring picturesque views of the ocean. As tempting as it may have been to take a dip, they decided it was a bit too chilly to jump in the water.
“It’s a little too cold for me – 49 degrees,” Behler, said.
Although the shore is normally ghostly quiet in January, there was a lot of foot traffic – both the two-footed and four-footed kind – on Sea Isle’s beaches on New Year’s Day.
Sheila and Dan Youngberg, a married couple from Laurel Springs, N.J., were taking their dog, Holly, for a walk on the beach to celebrate the holiday and continue a tradition they started years ago.
“We do the beach a lot on the holiday. It’s been at least 15 years,” Sheila Youngberg said.
Dan Youngberg noted that they have been visiting Sea Isle for about 20 years. On New Year’s Day, they decided to jump in their car and make the drive down to the shore from their Camden County home.
“It’s always been our favorite place to visit,” Dan Youngberg said.
The Youngbergs plan to return for Sea Isle’s Polar Bear Plunge, an annual event in February that draws thousands of visitors for a weekend of partying and a madcap dip in the frigid ocean.
The plunge’s over-the-top costumes add to the wacky atmosphere. Sheila Youngberg rolled her eyes while recalling an outrageous getup worn by one Polar Bear Plunge bather.
“I think my favorite character was a guy in a giant diaper,” she said, laughing.
In addition to the beach, Sea Isle’s Promenade was another popular spot on New Year’s Day for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Sue and John Wall, who have owned a vacation home in Sea Isle for 30 years, celebrated New Year’s Eve by having dinner at Braca’s Café and attending a party at the Yacht Club of Sea Isle City.
On New Year’s Day, they basked in the 60-plus-degree temperatures while taking a bike ride on the Promenade.
“It’s a fun time,” Sue Wall said.
“New Year’s Day is usually miserable down here,” John Wall added, referring to the typically frosty winter weather.
Across town at Sea Isle’s Dealy Field recreation complex, best friends Ben Bond and Jonny Viviani, both of Cape May Court House, were practicing their moves on their scooters while enjoying their holiday break from school.
Jonny groaned when he was asked about the prospect of returning to school after the holiday.
“Yeah, I mind having to go back,” he said.
Ben, 8, and Jonny, 9, live in the same neighborhood and have been best friends since they were in daycare together.
Both boys said they enjoyed New Year’s Eve by staying up until midnight. After they were done riding their scooters, they planned to spend the rest of their New Year’s Day watching YouTube videos and playing video games.
Sea Isle usually draws a lot of families over the holidays by offering a number of kid-friendly activities and amusements, including its community-style New Year’s Eve celebration in the gymnasium of the former public school.
Starting with Thanksgiving and continuing through New Year’s Day, Sea Isle also typically attracts second homeowners who come to the shore for a winter getaway, Mayor Leonard Desiderio said.
“I see that they use their homes on all of the holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s,” he said. “It’s their getaway. Why not come to the shore?”
Desiderio had a pre-New Year’s Eve bash on Sunday night at his Kix-McNutley’s bar and nightclub. As is his tradition, he gave his employees the night off on New Year’s Eve so they could spend the holiday with their friends and family.
Kix-McNutley’s reopened on New Year’s Day. Jess Lynch, a clerk at the Kix-McNutley’s liquor store, said Tito’s vodka, La Marca and Korbel champagne, Kendell Jackson chardonnay and St. Francis cabernet sauvignon were some of the best-selling brands for the holiday.