Shannon and Nick Giordano, along with their children, Giovanni, Vincenzo and Gracelynn, complete the decorations for the holiday beach tree at 44th Street.


Nick Giordano dug the hole, planted the tree and anchored it with rope tied to wood stakes. His wife, Shannon, and her mother, Kathy Connolly, added the decorative touches. The Giordanos’ three kids did a lot of watching, but occasionally helped out, too.

By the time they finished up late Saturday afternoon, just as daylight was beginning to fade into darkness under a stunning, red-streaked sky, the Giordano family had created a beautiful Christmas tree adorning the beach at 44th Street.

For the second year in a row, the Giordanos have given Sea Isle City a community tree to serve as a symbol of hope and inspiration during the holidays amid the grimness of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We hope this one lasts as long as the other one did last year,” Shannon said.

As the pandemic raged this time last year, the Giordanos decided to decorate a tree on the beach at 44th Street to provide some holiday cheer. Little did they know at the time just how spiritually uplifting the tree would become for their entire hometown.

“The Giordano family are Sea Isle treasures. They are part of what makes our community so special. As I said many times, working together, we can achieve the extraordinary,” Mayor Leonard Desiderio said.

Shannon Giordano holds the tree straight while Nick anchors it in the sand.

Word of the Giordanos’ tree quickly spread through the community and on social media last year. Inspired by such a powerful symbol of the holidays, residents and tourists began visiting it, as if making a pilgrimage, to add to the decorations that the Giordanos had placed on it.

An array of traditional ornaments brightened the tree’s appearance, as well as some quaint beach-themed touches ranging from toy sand shovels to hand-painted seashells.

Scattered in the sand at the base of the tree were even more seashells, some inscribed with personal messages and Christmas wishes from residents and visitors.

However, the tree’s impact on the community lasted well after Christmas. It was later decorated for Valentine’s Day, then St. Patrick’s Day and finally Easter. Only after the 6-foot Douglas fir had become somewhat bare from exposure to the elements for five months did the Giordanos finally decide to take it down in April.

Nick and Shannon Giordano hope this year’s holiday tree will have an equally poignant effect on the community.

“We hope that they’re surprised and feel the Christmas spirit,” Shannon said.

“And that it puts a smile on their face,” Nick quickly added.

Giovanni, Vincenzo and Gracelynn Giordano help out with the decorations.

Their children, 9-year-old daughter, Gracelynn, and sons Giovanni, 6, and Vincenzo, 5, laughed in joy as the decorations took shape. The kids helped to place some ornaments on the tree and also arranged some clam shells at the base. The shells will allow visitors to inscribe personal messages on them for the holidays.

The Giordanos are urging members of the community to add to the tree’s splendor with their own eco-friendly decorations.

This year’s tree is a Colorado blue spruce standing about 7 feet tall. The Giordanos spent $100 for the tree, the stand and some battery-powered lights. But if it elicits the same type of reaction as last year’s tree, the results on the community are expected to be priceless.

“It’s a wonderful gesture. It brings the Christmas spirit to the beach,” Sea Isle resident Linda Braker said of the tree just as the Giordanos were finishing the decorations.

“It’s a nice reminder of what the holidays should be,” added Debbie Dombroski, Braker’s friend from Philadelphia.

Nick Giordano carries the Colorado blue spruce out onto the beach to get it ready for decorating.

Like last year’s tree, the blue spruce is expected to be used as a backdrop for many holiday photos or to simply serve as a quiet place of reflection and inspiration.

Despite the winter and spring storms, last year’s tree was never toppled by coastal winds.

Nick Giordano noted that he had to straighten the tree a few times after it was pummeled by winds, but he anchored it with stakes on the beach to fortify it against the bad weather.

“It leaned a little bit, but never fell to the ground,” he said. “I was surprised it lasted as long as it did.”

He and his family hope that this year’s tree will remain standing at all times, too, to serve as a symbol of the community’s strength.

The newly decorated tree is ready to be admired by residents and tourists.