By Tim Kelly
Katherine Custer’s Sea Isle City office, just off the main bridge into town, gave her the perfect view of cars, by the thousands, pouring onto JFK Boulevard.
“The July 4 holiday is the Super Bowl of our summer season,” said Custer, Sea Isle’s enthusiastic and responsive Public Information Officer.
As is the case with pro football’s most grandiose event, a lot of preparation has been taking place for the wide range of activities visitors and residents may choose from.
Custer said that based on previous estimates, Sea Isle is expecting between 65,000 and 75,000 visitors over the course of the weekend.
“We’re ready,” she said. “In fact we expect this year to be our best Fourth of July holiday weekend yet.”
Some July 4th Sea Isle City highlights:
Junior Olympics: One of the most unique and tradition-bound July 4 events, this kids’ sports competition for ages 3 to 13, has been going on for decades. It’s from 9:30 to 11:30 at the Dealy Field Recreation Complex at 59th Street and Central Avenue. “We have grandparents who participated who are now watching their grandkids enjoy it,” Custer said.
More than 500 youngsters are registered to take part in the running, jumping and throwing competitions. They’ll be trying to win gold, silver or bronze medals and receive them on an Olympic-style platform.
At least that many parents, grandparents, and siblings will be watching the events unfold at Dealy Field. The event is sponsored by the City and hosted by the Sea Isle City Yacht Club, whose members do yeoman’s duties in organizing and running the competitions and awards ceremonies.
Fourth of July Concert: As the name implies, the Patriotic Brass Ensemble will thrill audience members of all ages with timeless American marches by John Phillip Sousa and other classic tunes celebrating the U.S. of A. It takes place starting 7:30 p.m. at the Excursion Park Band Shell just off the Prominade and JFK Boulevard.and continuing through until the fireworks display.
Sea Isle City Fireworks: One of the most epic displays of pyrotechnics in South Jersey, Sea Isle’s Fireworks are set to blast off at 9 p.m.
“The fireworks will be shot off from a barge off the 50th Street beach,” Custer said. “From this location, the show can be seen by everyone in town, from almost anywhere on the Prominade and beach.”
With mostly clear and warm beach days predicted over the next few days and the Fourth landing on a Thursday this year, huge crowds are expected.
“The excitement level of the business community is off the charts,” said Chris Glancey, president of the Sea Isle Chamber of Commerce.
“Our businesses gear up the entire (off-season) to be ready for this. So much work goes into it, and when you see the people show up in these kinds of numbers, it’s gratifying. We must be doing something right. We have a great product, and people want to continue their Sea Isle traditions and make memories. But it also shows how well out marketing and publicity efforts are working.”
Business is expected to be good on the retail and food and beverage sides, Clancey predicted.
“There are events going on all weekend, the weather is great and people will be gathering downtown,” he said.
He said family friendly events such as the band concert and Movie Night at the Band Shell were really catching on.
“It’s just a nice atmosphere where families can gather and relax,” he said. “That’s what a holiday weekend is supposed to be.”
Ralph Pasceri of O’Donnell’s Pour House and the Ocean Drive Bar and Restaurant said business was brisk at both establishments.
“We’re expecting to be busy and to have a great five day stretch, a nice long extended holiday weekend,” he said.
Pasceri said that in addition to the O.D.’s food and drink offerings, live music would continue to be a big draw at the legendary Sea Isle night spot.
“Secret Service will be doing their traditional July 4 jam session, leading right up to the fireworks,” he said.
The popular band also appeared Wednesday night as they have every summer Wednesday for more than 30 years, Pasceri added.
“People love them as they have for all these years,” he said, “and they’re still going strong.”