Roxy and Russell Paulson enjoy Easter Sunday by taking a trip to the beach with their daughters, Marley and Holly.


There was a big surprise waiting for 3-year-old Marley Paulson when she woke up Easter morning and looked inside her Easter basket.

While most kids find candy and dyed eggs tucked inside their baskets, Marley discovered a pair of sunglasses, courtesy of a very generous Easter Bunny.

“I saw my Easter basket, and then I saw the sunglasses,” Marley said excitedly while showing them off.

But there was more. The Easter Bunny had also brought her a new bathing suit to give her a stylish new outfit for the summer season.

The sunglasses and bathing suit had Marley already thinking of summer as she spent a mild Easter morning checking out Sea Isle City’s beaches with her parents, Roxy and Russell Paulson, and her 10-month-old sister, Holly.

“It’s beautiful,” Roxy Paulson said of the views of the beach and ocean.

“It’s gorgeous,” Russell Paulson added. “It gets you excited for the summer.”

The Paulsons live in Malvern, Pa., and were spending the Easter weekend at the shore in Ocean View at the home of Russell’s parents.

Natalie Matthias takes her Samoyeds for a walk on the Promenade for Easter.

Whether it was enjoying the beach, taking a walk on the Promenade, savoring Easter Sunday brunch or worshipping in church, the holiday weekend offered much to do for residents and visitors to the shore.

Natalie Matthias, who lives in Woolwich, N.J., and has a summer home in Sea Isle, was letting her two Samoyeds, Kaiya and Bear, get some exercise by taking them for a walk on the oceanfront Promenade.

“This is a very nice way to come out and enjoy the Easter weekend. It’s very nice that they still allow dogs on the beaches at this time of year,” Matthias said as the fluffy, white dogs tugged on their leashes.

For Matthias, this Easter weekend promised to be extra special. Her son, Joshua, who is in the Navy and is stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, joined the family in Sea Isle for the Easter weekend celebration.

“My son is in the Navy,” Matthias said proudly.

Sea Isle is also a popular retreat for Christians during Easter weekend. Many of them stop in to celebrate the holiday at the local churches while spending time at their shore vacation homes or visiting with relatives.

Pastor Melissa Doyle-Waid speaks to parishioners during Easter services at United Methodist Church.

The worshippers at United Methodist Church began their celebration of one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar with sunrise services on the Promenade. They gathered inside the church at 10:30 a.m. to continue to reflect on the miracle of Christ’s resurrection.

Overlooking the church sanctuary is a towering, stained-glass mural of Christ. Standing in front of the mural, Pastor Melissa Doyle-Waid welcomed the parishioners with the words, “The Lord has risen.”

The parishioners responded by saying, “He has risen indeed.”

Inside the church, a bare wooden cross stood at the foot of the altar. The altar itself was beautifully decorated with colorful roses, daffodils and Easter lilies.

Doyle-Waid spoke of the excruciating pain that Christ suffered when he was crucified.

“But then he rose – three days later, he rose,” she said of Christ’s resurrection on Easter.

The bare wooden cross symbolized Christ’s terrible death, but Doyle-Waid invited the parishioners up to the front of the church to adorn it with flowers and transform it into something beautiful.

“The cross is a beautiful symbol now,” she told the parishioners after it was covered in pink, red, yellow and orange roses.

Liliana Gulde is one of the Easter worshippers at United Methodist Church who adorn a wooden cross with roses.

Doyle-Waid reminded the worshippers to celebrate the blessings of Easter by recognizing the sacrifices that Christ made for others while taking “our sin away.”

The service included prayer, hymns and a Eucharist ceremony in which parishioners accepted Holy Communion symbolizing the body of Christ.

Filling the quaint sanctuary throughout the service at United Methodist Church were the sounds of a piano played by Margaret Birnirt.

The 75-year-old Birnirt, who lives in Upper Township, has been the pianist at United Methodist Church for about four years. She said Easter is always a special time for her to share her talents with the rest of the worshippers, but she credited God for giving her the gift of music.

“It all comes from the Lord. It’s a gift from him. I just want to return that gift,” she said.

In addition to holding Easter services, United Methodist Church tapped its community food pantry to distribute holiday meals to 20 local families in need.

Margaret Birnirt plays the piano during Easter service at United Methodist Church.