By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Maureen O’Connell lounged in a beach chair inscribed with the words “Life is Good” while chatting with her neighbor, Bonnie Berrios, on a stunning spring day at the shore Tuesday.
O’Connell and Berrios, both retirees, had a stretch of beach at 85th Street in Sea Isle City mostly to themselves as the temperatures flirted with 80 degrees under skies streaked with a gorgeous blue tint.
“I was waiting for it,” Berrios said of the beautiful weather.
“I thought it would be a beach day,” O’Connell added. “It really turned out that way.”
Indeed, after two weekends in a row of dreary, rainy conditions at the shore, beachgoers finally got a sun-splashed day that proved, just like O’Connell’s chair says, “Life is Good.”
Tuesday was a bonus day weather-wise that featured July-like conditions in mid-May. It was also a free day on the beach – beach tags aren’t required in Sea Isle until Memorial Day weekend.
This is also the time of year that beachgoers don’t have to worry about the teeming crowds that pack the shore during the height of the summer tourism season.
Sea Isle spokeswoman Katherine Custer noted that residents and visitors alike can take advantage of the beaches, shopping and other local attractions in town just as the weather starts to turn summer-like.
“I definitely noticed that people were walking around town today, eager to take advantage of the nice weather,” Custer said. ‘Hopefully, today is a sign of things to come this summer.”
For O’Connell and Berrios, it was a relaxing day at the beach. They have vacation homes on 86th Street in Townsends Inlet. O’Connell’s full-time residence is in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., while Berrios is a self-proclaimed “snowbird” who spends winters in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and summers in Sea Isle.
In the past week, the 65-year-old O’Connell retired as a nurse, after a career that dated back to the 1980s. Now, O’Connell will have even more time to spend on the beach with Berrios, 61, a fellow retiree.
“We love coming to this beach. It’s 85th and a half street,” O’Connell joked of their location between 85th and 86th streets.
Enjoying the same section of beach were Jordan and Michele Coeyman and their 18-month-old daughter, Quinn. Already looking like a veteran beachgoer, the blonde-haired Quinn was sporting a pair of stylish sunglasses.
The Coeymans, who live in Philadelphia, took cover from the intense summer-like sun Tuesday under a cabana. Other than O’Connell and Berrios sitting about 50 yards away, the Coeymans were savoring all of the room they had to themselves on the beach.
“We love it. We love the space,” Jordan said.
Michele noted that even during the summer, she and her husband make it a point to visit the shore during midweek to avoid the big weekend crowds.
The Coeymans decided to head to the shore largely on a whim to take advantage of the nice weather.
“We have a flexible schedule because we work from home. We kind of bop down here once in a while,” Jordan said of their getaways to the beach.
Jordan works as a software developer and Michele’s job is in marketing. They arrived at the shore Monday night and plan to stay until Wednesday. Michele’s parents have a place in Ocean View for family trips to the shore.
“It’s a beautiful day,” Michele said. ‘We really look forward to coming back and bringing Quinn again.”
While some enjoyed the great weather lounging on the beach, David Falcone spent the day fishing in the shadow of the Townsends Inlet Bridge.
“Beautiful,” Falcone said of the sunny skies.
He paused for a moment and then joked, “I wish the fish around here would cooperate, though.”
Falcone rode his bike to Sea Isle from his home in Ocean View to fish at one of his favorite spots.
With a trace of disappointment in his voice, he explained that the fish weren’t biting all day.
But then he took note of the magnificent weather.
“It doesn’t get any nicer,” he said.