By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
The temperature had soared into the sweltering 90s at their home in Philadelphia, but that didn’t seem to matter much on Sunday to Ashley and Charlie Raudenbush and their sons, Reese and Reid.
The family escaped the oppressive mini-heat wave that gripped much of the region over the weekend by spending a gorgeous beach day in Sea Isle City featuring temperatures in the mid-70s.
But the kids enjoyed something else even more than the refreshing shore weather. What Reese, 5, and Reid, 3, really liked were the colorful popsicles that they tried to finish before the frozen treats melted in the sun.
“This is wonderful. The sunshine feels great,” Ashley Raudenbush said.
With Memorial Day just around the corner, this weekend provided a sneak peek of the bustling summer tourism season at the shore. Sea Isle’s beaches were crowded in spots Sunday, but there was still plenty of room to stretch out.
Perhaps best of all, this was the last weekend before beach tags are required for the summer – a little perk that allowed visitors to spend their money on other things, such as the popsicles that Reese and Reid were licking.
When she was growing up, Ashley Raudenbush enjoyed her summer vacations in Sea Isle with her parents. Now, she is bringing her own kids to the shore.
“Every summer we would be here for a week. Then we would take day trips, like we’re doing today,” Ashley said.
On Sunday, the Raudenbushes also invited their friends, Morgan and Clarence Fuller to join them on the beach. The Fullers, of Philadelphia, had their kids, Frankie, 4, and Freda, 2, with them, along with Morgan’s sister, Natalie Bogle, of Delray Beach, Florida.
For the Fullers, it was their first ever trip to Sea Isle.
“It’s adorable. It’s a cute, little beach town,” Morgan Fuller said.
Other Sea Isle visitors enjoyed the beautiful weather by riding their bikes, taking their boats out on the water or hunting for seashells. Cathy Gillen and her sister-in-law, Noreen Gillen, found another way to relax – savoring a good book while sitting on a bench on the Promenade.
Cathy Gillen, who lives in Rochester, N.Y., and Noreen Gillen, from Hillsdale, N.J., said their getaway to Sea Isle is part of an annual tradition.
“We come here alone every May. Then we come back in August with our families,” Cathy explained.
Their shore trips in May give them some quiet time away from the five grandchildren they each have, they noted.
“We do a lot of child care. This is nanny’s vacation,” Cathy said as Noreen smiled and nodded her head in agreement.
Then they went back to reading their books. Cathy was flipping through the pages of the suspense novel “The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave and Noreen was just starting the novel “Honor” by Thrity Umrigar.
Away from the main action on the beaches and the Promenade, Joe Hughes was at Sea Isle City’s municipal marina on Sunday to get his two boats ready for the next fishing charters he operates.
Hughes is known as “Captain Joe” in Sea Isle, but his students call him “Mr. Hughes” during his time in the classroom as a fifth grade teacher in Galloway Township.
He has operated his fishing business, Jersey Cape Guide Service, for 23 years. He has a 17-foot boat and a 24-footer for trips in Sea Isle. This spring, he’s been running charters since March.
Hughes, who lives in Sea Isle, was happy that the nasty nor’easters that had drenched the shore with soaking rain the past two weekends were finally over.
“I haven’t seen it blow northeast that many days, ever. It was seven or eight days in a row when it was a hard northeast wind,” he said.
On Sunday, though, there was nothing more than a gentle breeze to accompany the sunny skies and 75-degree temperature.