By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Karen Wylde didn’t hesitate when she gave her assessment of the spring-like weather that made a cameo appearance in the middle of winter on Saturday.
“It’s glorious,” she exclaimed.
After a soggy December and January, Wylde and three of her longtime college buddies from Pennsylvania were able to emerge from their winter hibernation to enjoy a relaxing weekend getaway in Sea Isle City. Other visitors were drawn to the shore by the mild weather.
Although gray clouds stubbornly hung around most of the day, the temperature climbed all the way to 60 degrees in Sea Isle – serving as a sneak peek of spring’s arrival in about six weeks.
Wylde, who lives in Mount Joy, Pa., and has a summer vacation home in Sea Isle on 73rd Street, was joined by her friends Anne Mackin, Kathy Horning and Jenny Williams. The four women have remained close since their freshman days at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania in 1977.
They came down to the shore for their weekend trip on Friday and plan to stay until Monday. The “glorious” weather, as Wylde, called it, allowed them to take a walk on the beach and relax on the benches on the oceanfront Promenade.
“We lucked out,” Mackin said of the weather.
Although the weather may have been spring-like Saturday, the beaches, Promenade and downtown shopping district in Sea Isle were all serenely quiet – typical of winter days at the shore.
“It’s great to be here during the offseason. There aren’t as many crowds,” Wylde said.
Other visitors in Sea Isle took advantage of the tranquil weather and sparse crowds Saturday to sit on the beach, ride their bikes or take their dogs for a walk.
Kevin Lawrence had a stretch of the ocean around 39th Street all to himself when he ventured out to catch a few waves on his surfboard.
“This is a dream. This is what you go to bed hoping for,” Lawrence said of the mild winter weather.
Lawrence, 36, has been surfing for five years. He lives in Philadelphia, but his family has a vacation home in Sea Isle on 46th Street.
He was dressed in a wetsuit for protection from the 43-degree water temperature. Despite the normally chilly weather, he explained that the best surfing at the Jersey Shore is often done during the stormy winter months.
“If you surf on the East Coast, you cut your teeth now,” Lawrence said.
Two other Sea Isle visitors, Shirley Charlton and her daughter-in-law, Sharnise Johnson, preferred to stay out of the water while watching the waves from the beach at 38th Street. They were enjoying the tranquility of the virtually deserted beach.
“Amazing,” Charlton said of their quiet time at the shore.
“Peaceful. I can’t believe it,” Johnson added. “It’s a lot nicer when the weather is like this. We’re not freezing.”
Charlton and Johnson live in Chester County, Pa. Charlton’s family has a vacation home in Sea Isle on 38th Street. Both women said they love the serenity of the offseason at the shore.
“It’s just so nice to be able to come here in the offseason,” Charlton said.
Sean Gavin and Michelle Cabot, who are boyfriend and girlfriend, came to the shore from their hometown of Woodbury Heights, N.J., to savor the mild weather Saturday. Gavin’s family has a vacation home in Sea Isle’s historic Fish Alley neighborhood.
The couple stopped for a moment for a photo in front of a digital sign that is next to the Promenade at John F. Kennedy Boulevard. The sign flashed the temperature: 60 degrees.
“This is so nice, especially at the beginning of February,” Gavin said, smiling.