By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Joe George, his wife, Alice, and seven of their friends from Sea Isle City were lounging on the beach Friday afternoon – like a typical summer day – savoring the sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s.
Yet this really wasn’t a summer day, was it? For some reason, Mother Nature decided to play a game of meteorological trick-or-treat on everybody by carrying over a bit of July-like weather into mid-October just two weeks before Halloween.
Breaking into a laugh, Joe George said the surreal weather reminded him of a classic sci-fi TV show from the 1950s and ’60s.
“It’s July. We’re in the Twilight Zone,” he joked.
It definitely seemed like summer. Beachgoers rubbed on the sunscreen, pitched their umbrellas and even took a dip in the ocean while enjoying the gorgeous weather that kicked off the weekend.
“We’re going to enjoy it all the way through the weekend,” said Frank Betsch, who, along with his wife, Kathy, was part of the group of friends with Joe and Alice George.
After seeing the great forecast, George, Betsch and the rest of their friends, all retirees, planned out their day on the beach during an outing Thursday night at Sea Isle’s VFW Post 1963.
Relaxing in beach chairs not far from the water, they were waiting for a pizza to be delivered to them so they could start their party. Four more friends were expected to join them later.
Many other beachgoers were drawn to the shore Friday by temperatures that were supposed to flirt with the 80s – about 15 degrees warmer than the average high for this time of year.
Mary Kannan and her boyfriend, Mark Van Glahn, both of Carteret, N.J., strolled along the shoreline in ankle-deep water while searching for seashells.
They could hardly believe the spectacular weather, but Kannan was disappointed that she didn’t bring a full bathing suit so that she could dive into the water.
“I didn’t wear the bottom of my bathing suit because I didn’t think I would have a chance of going in the water at this time of the year,” she said.
Kannan and Van Glahn have a vacation place at a campground in Ocean View. For their weekend getaway at the shore, they were planning a trip to Asbury Park after their beach day in Sea Isle.
“I saw the weather report and said, ‘We have to go to the beach,’’’ Van Glahn said.
Another beachgoer, Doreen Callahan, of South Seaville, had one word for the exceptional weather.
“Fantastic!” Callahan exclaimed while lounging on the 43rd Street beach with her friend, Toni Hilsin, of Sea Isle.
Callahan and Hilsin were celebrating Callahan’s return to good health. Callahan explained that she has struggled with a series of hip and knee surgeries over the past year and wasn’t stable enough to take a full-fledged swim in the ocean – until Friday.
“I went fully in the water today because it is so beautiful,” Callahan said.
“The saltwater cured her,” Hilsin added.
Callahan said she was awake before dawn Friday. Later, she spoke to Hilsin about the beautiful weather that was expected to unfold later in the day.
“I told her, ‘I’ll be on the 43rd Street beach. Come join me,’’’ Callahan said.
Hilsin responded, ‘I’ll be there.”
Callahan, who also surfs, is waiting to get even stronger, after recuperating from her surgeries, to get back on her board again.
“It’s beautiful. To me, it’s fantastic. If I could surf today, I would do it without wearing a wetsuit,” she said, referring to the unusually warm ocean temperature for the fall.
Up on Sea Isle’s Promenade, Katie and Steven Montalbano were taking a leisurely stroll with their 14-month-old daughter, Luna.
The Montalbanos are in the process of moving from Bloomfield in northern New Jersey to Galloway Township in South Jersey. They are spending some time at a relative’s shore house while waiting to close on their new home in Galloway.
They were pleasantly surprised by the summer-like weather at the shore Friday.
“I packed up my sandals and flip-flops because I didn’t think I would need them,” Katie said.