By MADDY VITALE
Walking along the Promenade, sipping cool drinks while chatting on benches, lounging on the beaches, or doing some shopping in Sea Isle City on Sunday gave visitors and residents a reprieve from the pandemic at least for the day.
“People are very pleased. They are just happy to be here. It is so good to get out. My opinion is there is nothing like this. The water is calmness,” said Elissa Turdo, a third grade teacher in Swedesboro who is spending her first summer off as a Sea Isle beach tag checker.
Beachgoers did their best to social distance between them and other families who played football, splashed in the surf and sat in chairs with umbrellas that dotted the sands.
The Neary and Herm families, who are longtime friends and whose children go to school together, could think of no other place to be than Sea Isle for the weekend.
John and Jacqueline Neary, of Eaglesville, Pa., and Amy and Greg Herm, of Collegeville, Pa., welcomed the getaway.
The couples and their children and nieces and nephews headed down for the weekend to spend it at the Nearys’ Sea Isle home they purchased last month.
“This is the only thing keeping us sane,” John Neary said with a laugh while lounging in a chair at the water’s edge.
“We were just saying today how it feels so normal here compared to home,” Amy Herm said, referring to the pandemic.
Moments before the family posed for a group photo, Greg Herm noted, “We are on the beach, it is sunny — what more could be better?”
While some people wore masks on the Promenade, others just tried to stay six feet apart from strangers.
Dennis and Barbara Mongelluzzo, of Vineland, had specific plans when they drove the 30 miles to Sea Isle.
“We came down to buy our beach tags,” Dennis said.
“We left them in the car,” Barbara added with a laugh.
So, instead of walking back to the car to get their beach tags, the Mongelluzzos bought some chilled pink lemonades to sip on a bench. Aside from carrying their protective masks, which they said they put on when walking in crowds or ordering food, the pandemic was far from their minds.
“We don’t mind wearing the masks. As much as we don’t like it, we like that it is keeping us safe,” Dennis said.
The Mongelluzzos, who have been married for 26 years, said Sea Isle is their favorite shore town.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid,” Barbara noted.
“We just like the attitude down here. It is relaxed, but there is a lot more to do and we love getting a bite to eat and the beaches are nice,” Dennis said.
Before leaving Sea Isle, they planned on stopping at Mike’s Seafood for a takeout meal.
Across town, on Landis Avenue, people walked with pizza boxes and nibbled on slices, sat in Veterans Park, and rode bikes and skateboards.
While many retail shops have been closed since Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order in March detailing nonessential and essential businesses, some of the restrictions have been eased.
Most retailers are focusing on online orders to see them through. But just this past week, in Sea Isle, the city sent a notice to business owners that they may put out merchandise in front of their shops as long as it does not obstruct the walkway.
Liz Essick, owner of Sunsations on JFK Boulevard, helped customers, along with her longtime sales associate, Carol Collins, with garments and shoes on tables and racks outside of her upscale women’s boutique.
“We are just so happy to welcome our customers back. At least now we can have items out for the customers to see and feel so that they could have that shopping experience,” Essick said.
One Sunsations customer, Lauren Di Cesare, of Sea Isle, said she was very happy to see Essick’s items out front.
She browsed some bathing suits before settling on a teal two-piece.
“You get used to being able to go shopping at your favorite stores,” Di Cesare explained. “Being able to shop makes you feel like things are a little bit more back to normal.”