By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Emily Schretlen and Liz Latimer, who are both 25 and have been best friends since they attended Henderson High School together in West Chester, Pa., had some company with them Saturday in Sea Isle City.
“This is our gang,” Latimer joked, pointing to a group of about 20 friends and family members lounging in beach chairs.
For Schretlen, Latimer and their friends, the start of the Labor Day weekend was a chance to sneak in a few more days on the beach before the summer of 2019 comes to an unofficial – and unwanted – close.
Spending some relaxing time on the beach, partying and catching up with old friends were all part of the plans for their last fling holiday weekend in Sea Isle.
“I’m constantly running into people who I went to college with,” said Schretlen, a graduate of Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania
“This is our beach town. We love Sea Isle,” Latimer added.
By all indications, the summer of 2019 has been a particularly memorable vacation season in Sea Isle – not just for Schretlen and Latimer, who both live in Philadelphia – but for many others.
Mayor Leonard Desiderio called this summer “truly outstanding.”
“Not only did we have wonderful weather that resulted in perfect beach days and pleasant nights along the Promenade, we also enjoyed a terrific four-day July Fourth Weekend, we celebrated our Beach Patrol’s 100th Anniversary in grand style, we had a variety of successful community events that were very well attended, we welcomed back many familiar faces to town, and many new friendships were forged along the way. So, with all that in mind, I am going to declare the summer of 2019 a huge success,” Desiderio said in a statement posted on the city’s website.
From her vantage point, Kathy McFarland also viewed it as an exceptionally strong summer. McFarland said 2019 is probably the best summer ever in her eight years as a Sea Isle beach tag inspector.
“It’s been so busy. It’s been better than any other summer that I can remember,” McFarland said while exchanging end-of-summer goodbye hugs with friends and well-wishers on Saturday afternoon.
Labor Day is the last day that beach tags are required for the summer season.
Beach tag sales are up this year. As of Aug. 12, Sea Isle had $1,325,425 in beach tag sales, up $11,880 over the same period in the summer of 2018. City officials attributed the increase to the glorious weather throughout the summer.
McFarland said by one unofficial count, there were only two rainy beach days this year, compared to 31 in the summer of 2018.
“It’s been a very good summer. It’s certainly better than last year,” she said. “But another season is ending. It went by so fast.”
John and Jamie Dannunzio and their sons Austin, 7, and Conner, 4, were absolutely determined Saturday to squeeze out as much fun as possible this holiday weekend before summer fades away.
They spent the day out on the water on their 21-foot boat and were planning to hit the arcade before taking in dinner and then a family concert Saturday night.
“We’re weekend warriors, not shoobies,” John Dannunzio declared with a big laugh.
The Dannunzios, who live in Garnet Valley, Pa., vacation at their family’s summer home in Sea Isle. John Dannunzio explained that he would spend summer vacations in Sea isle with his family when he was a child and is doing the same thing now with his kids.
One of the highlights this summer for his sons Austin, who is entering second grade, and Conner, who is starting pre-kindergarten, was learning how to swim.
“These guys are getting used to the water. We’re teaching them how to swim,” Dannunzio said.
That should mean that they’ll be all set to go when they jump in the water for the summer of 2020. They have only two more days to go before this summer is unofficially over.