By Maddy Vitale
You might think the countdown to the New Year goes until midnight, when noisemakers, streamers and celebratory toasts, are enjoyed at gatherings all over.
Not for Sea Isle City. Instead, when the clock strikes 7 p.m., it’s party time.
“Thanks to an early countdown, the City’s New Year’s Eve celebration in our municipal gymnasium is a great way for families to ring in the New Year without little children having to stay up until midnight,” Kathy Custer, city spokeswoman, said Saturday. “The reservation list for this event always fills up quickly because parents and kids alike really love it!”
The event has made lasting memories for city residents and has become an important tradition for generations of families, Custer remarked, adding that about 350 people attend.
The celebration, hosted by the City’s Division of Recreation and Municipal Alliance Committee, will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will feature family activities, dancing, entertainment, food and refreshments, and an early countdown to midnight with a falling crystal ball at 7 p.m.
Reservations are required, and space is limited. Admission includes dessert. Children must be accompanied by an adult. The evening will end with a bang with a fireworks display at the JFK Boulevard Beach, Custer said.
“Our New Year’s Eve fireworks display is always a lot of fun. Many people look forward to bundling up and heading to the beach to enjoy the fireworks with their loved ones,” Custer said.
With all of the incentives to come to Sea Isle to enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebration, it also means an increase in business at a time when seashore towns are typically slowing down.
Chris Glancey, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization said holiday weekend events really help the city’s economy.
“These holiday weekends have become very important for the business community. As more people become second home owners, they spend more holidays and weekends in Sea Isle,” Glancey said. “The holiday weekends are what allows the business communities to be successful. They really give us a boost through the winter time so that we can get through.”
And despite blustery temperatures, Glancey has no doubt people will stick to their plans to enjoy the festivities in Sea Isle.
“Everyone has plans to come down for the weekend. The parties are all indoors, so everything will still be inside. Everyone will have their dinner plans,” Glancey said. “It is going to be a fun weekend down here to celebrate the New year. It is always great to start the New year by the ocean and enjoy Sea Isle City.”
Shops are not the only businesses that will benefit from New Year’s Eve weekend.
Bars and restaurants will also pack in the crowds. Jitney Service will be available from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday and Sunday so people can travel around town safely and leave the driving to a professional. The Route will be from 29th Street to 94th Street, North and Southbound, along Landis Avenue.
Kathy Larkin, a manager at The Ocean Drive Bar & Restaurant, known affectionately as “The OD,” has no doubt the establishment will have a lot of patrons, years past is all the proof she needs.
The band Secret Service will perform New Year’s Eve starting at 9:30 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. A hot and cold hors d’oeuvres buffet and a gourmet dinner buffet will keep customers happy through the night, Larkin said.
“We do a free champagne toast at midnight and we also do a continental breakfast at 1 a.m.,” Larkin added. “It’s a great time. It is really for young and old alike. Everyone likes Secret Service. They have been playing here for over 30 years. They are known as the best two-man party band in the land. They really get the crowd involved.”
Larkin is also a manager at O’Donnell’s Pour House. She said there are a lot of specials throughout the holiday weekend for dinner and lunch. On New Year’s Eve DJ Steve will get things going and there will be a free champagne toast.
“There is a special menu with a lot of entrees,” Larkin said. “We have it all decked out for New Year’s Eve. Everyone will get noise makers and hats. We are all ready for the New Year.”
La Costa Lounge & Deck Bar is having a New Year’s Eve bash featuring The Insiders from 8 p.m. – 3:30 a.m. The cost is $20 at the door and there is a complimentary buffet and midnight champagne toast.
For more information about the Sea Isle City celebration, call the recreation office at 609-263-0050.