By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Kathy Satkosky was getting ready for her annual winter getaway in Florida, but there was an important piece of last-minute business she had to take care of before jumping on the plane.
She had to buy beach tags.
Not beach tags for Florida.
They were for Sea Isle City.
Satkosky was among the many visitors and year-round residents who rushed to the Sea Isle City Welcome Center on Monday to buy the popular holiday-themed beach tags that go on sale this time of year.
They are good for the entire 2022 summer season and are available for $20 each, a $5 discount from the regular $25 price for seasonal beach tags.
“We get them every year,” Satkosky said as she began writing a check for $80 to buy four beach tags for her family.
Monday was the first day that the holiday tags went on sale. Sea Isle is selling 3,500 of them and they aren’t expected to last long.
“The holiday beach tags are wildly popular,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said. “Not only do they make for great gifts, but many people like to purchase them for their beach tag collections. Once again, we anticipate they will sell out quickly.”
Sea Isle has been selling holiday beach tags since 2010. Year after year, these tiny pieces of plastic traditionally are one of the most coveted gifts found wrapped under the tree or stuffed into Christmas stockings.
On a day when the temperature dropped into the 40s and a brisk wind made it feel even chillier, people were buying something that seemed completely incongruous with the winter-like weather Monday.
“There’s something special about buying a beach tag in winter. It’s the promise of summer that comes six months early,” Custer said.
Satkosky, who is flying to Florida on Tuesday to begin her winter sojourn in Fort Myers, said she was already looking forward to returning to Sea Isle in May so that she could begin using her seasonal beach tags. She is a summer resident in Sea Isle.
“It will be safe to come back in May,” she said of the return of beautiful summer beach weather at the Jersey Shore.
B.J. Reilly, a Sea Isle resident, is a holiday beach tag aficionado. After using the tags over the summer, her family saves them every year for their collection.
“Beach tags are a big thing in our house,” she said.
Reilly said buying beach tags at this time of year is a nice reminder of relaxing summer days of lounging in the sand next to the ocean.
“It’s just like coming down to the shore,” she said.
On Monday, Reilly bought eight of the holiday-themed beach tags, which are decorated with a collage of Christmas trees and presents.
“My family thinks they are a necessity – like food and shelter. They always say, ‘Did you get the beach tags?’” Reilly said, laughing.
Holiday beach tags are sold Monday through Saturday at the Welcome Center on John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
They are also available every day of the week at a cash-only beach tag vending machine on the first floor of City Hall.
Beach tags are required in Sea Isle from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Beach tag sales total around $1.4 million annually in Sea Isle and are an important source of revenue. The money pays for lifeguards, seasonal police officers, keeping the beaches clean and Sea Isle’s share of beach replenishment projects done in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.