By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
The fog was thick enough to obscure the whimsical “Smile … You’re in Sea Isle” logo on the city’s water tower.
The air temperature stubbornly refused to climb out of the 60s.
The water temperature was chilly enough for swimmers to make a mad dash out of the surf and wrap themselves in towels.
But who cared?
Memorial Day weekend arrived Friday – the traditional start of the eagerly awaited summer vacation season in Sea Isle City and the rest of the Jersey Shore.
“We’re on the beach, we’re on vacation and we’re relaxing,” Kevin Bryant said dismissively about the less-than-ideal weather while playing a game of Spike Ball with his son, Aidan, his daughter, Kelsey, and family friend Gianna Vallone.
When asked how long they had waited for the summer season to finally arrive at the shore, Gianna replied, “The whole winter.”
Despite the London-like fog shrouding the beach on Friday, the forecast calls for sunnier and warmer weather for the rest of the holiday weekend.
Kevin Bryant, of Perkiomenville, Pa., said he and his family are planning to take advantage of their Memorial Day getaway by spending even more time on the beach, along with doing other activities.
“We are looking forward to enjoying the weather. It’s supposed to be nice this weekend,” he said.
Early indications suggest that this will be a busy holiday in Sea Isle, a town that swells from a year-round population of about 2,100 to anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 visitors in the summer.
“There are plenty of people in town. It’s already off to a good start. They’re rolling into town,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said of the early holiday crowds.
A steady stream of traffic flowed into Sea Isle on the John F. Kennedy Boulevard entryway Friday afternoon. Parking spaces were quickly being gobbled up. Bars, restaurants and retail shops were welcoming back their customers.
“From all reports, our businesses are ready and our beaches are in good shape,” Custer said. “We are looking forward to a very good weekend in Sea Isle City.”
The city’s beach patrol began lifeguard protection for the Memorial Day weekend at 40th Street, 51st Street, 59th Street, the block between 64th and 65th streets, 75th Street and the block between 86th and 87th streets. More lifeguard-protected beaches will be added as the summer continues to eventually cover virtually the entire length of the island.
Anthony Calabrese, of Montgomeryville, Pa., was joined Friday on the 51st Street beach by his son, Roman, who will celebrate his 4th birthday on Saturday. The family gathering also included Calabrese’s brother, Dan Calabrese, Dan’s wife, Nicole, and their children, Vince, 9, Dominic, 7, and Bella, 5.
The Calabrese family has a summer vacation home in Sea Isle. Anthony Calabrese noted that summers at the shore traditionally mean “an escape from the day-to-day routine.”
“I think that’s why a lot of people come here,” he said. “That’s what we look forward to when we’re starting up a new routine.”
Calabrese explained that the shore has always been a special place for him. He first met his wife, Theresa, in Sea Isle and they got married in Stone Harbor. He and his family are getting ready to celebrate another special occasion at the shore now that summer has arrived.
“First and foremost, this is the weekend that kicks off the summer season,” Calabrese said. “This is also going to be an extra-special birthday for Roman.”
Another young boy, 5-year-old Kaden Nguyen, was also enjoying a special Memorial Day weekend in Sea Isle on Friday. He and his grandfather, Fred Cantagallo, were spending some quality time together on the Promenade.
Cantagallo rode his bike, while Kaden zoomed along the Promenade on his tiny scooter.
Cantagallo lives in Media, Pa., and has a summer place in Sea Isle.
“We’re just hanging out,” he said with a laugh about this holiday plans with his grandson. “We’ll also go fishing and play on the beach.”
Kaden was looking forward to visiting with friends at the shore. He also had something else in mind for the holiday weekend.
“We’re going to play some games at the arcade,” he said, drawing a smile from his grandfather.