Pumpkin-painting proves popular with children making Halloween-inspired designs during last year’s Octoberfest.

By Maddy Vitale

Nearly 30 years ago, Sea Isle City officials realized that they wanted to show people that their community wasn’t just a summer town that closed up as soon as the Labor Day weekend was over.

At that time, they began adding events to highlight all that the resort has in the off-season to do. They began the Fall Family Festival and the Halloween parade.

Now, decades later, with the popularity of the added attractions bringing more people to the destination throughout the year, it appears they were right.

They have carried that philosophy of complementing the summer activities with a host of activities to extend the shoulder season beyond the typical September and October months.

“During the shoulder seasons, residents and visitors have the opportunity to expand the good times of summer and make the most of the nice weather,” said Sea Isle Public Information Officer Katherine Custer. “In addition to giving a boost to our local businesses, autumn and spring events remind people that the fun in Sea Isle City doesn’t simply begin on Memorial Day and end on Labor Day, because we have events taking place throughout the year.”

Harborfest is just one of several festivals in Sea Isle during the shoulder season.

The city offers a whole lineup of events that take visitors and second-homeowners up to New Year’s Eve.

The autumn season is highlighted by a number of festivals and other family-friendly attractions. The Fall Family Festival, hosted by the City’s Division of Tourism, is Sea Isle’s largest fall event and it attracts huge crowds each year, Custer noted.

“Everyone loves the Fall Family Festival, because it has a wide variety of attractions and activities. It’s awesome,” she said. 

Hosted by the City’s Division of Recreation, the annual Halloween Parade and Halloween Dance Party are also very popular – for spectators and participants alike, Custer said.

The city’s Recreation Office is currently accepting applications from people who would like to march in this year’s Halloween Parade, which is on October 19.

“It’s difficult to determine who has more fun, the people who watch the parade from the sidewalk or those who don costumes and march along Landis Avenue,” Custer said. “The parade is always a crowd pleaser.”

The Halloween Parade is another centerpiece of the city’s fall entertainment lineup.

The Sea Isle Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization also hosts several popular events in the fall, including the family-friendly Harborfest and Octoberfest celebrations.

Octoberfest offers hayrides on the beach, pumpkin painting, live German music, a pie-baking contest and other attractions.

LaCosta Lounge holds an Irish Festival and Mayor Leonard Desiderio and his family host a Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival each fall, both of which greatly add to the enjoyment of the season, Custer explained.

There is even a New Year’s Eve event that attracts residents and visitors and features family friendly activities that are capped off by a fireworks display.

And for those who would like to help the environment, the city’s Environmental Commission hosts its annual Autumn Beach Clean-Up and Dune Grass Planting event.

“It is a terrific way to spend a morning with family and friends,” Custer added. “In addition to being a very important effort, that has a positive impact on the local eco-system, some of our local businesses help stress the importance of healthy beaches and a sound environment by contributing to the event.”

Mike’s Seafood offers a complimentary luncheon to thank participants in the clean-up. Approach Clothing Company donates free T-shirts to the volunteers and Spinners Pizza & Ice Cream Shop donates coupons for free ice cream cones for the volunteers.

“The Beach Clean-Up is truly a wonderful community effort,” Custer noted.

No matter what the event, Custer emphasized that all play an important role in making Sea Isle City an attractive destination after Labor Day.

Certainly, visitors benefit by having all of the family friendly events to draw them to town but at the same time, the business community gets an extra boost.

Chamber of Commerce President Christopher Glancey said the chamber has expanded attractions during the shoulder season over the last eight years.

“It is critical for the business community to be successful and have as many people come to Sea Isle as possible. We are trying to give people more reasons to come to the island in the offseason,” Glancey said. “Especially, with the rise of the second-homeownership. The shoulder season gives people another reason to come down on the weekends. With the rentals decreasing and the second-homeowners on the rise, the shoulder season becomes more important to us.”

In addition to some of the festivals, the Chamber hosts Girls weekend in the spring and fall, and the popular Polar Bear Plunge weekend each February.

“It is always good to let people know there is something to do on the weekend,” Glancey noted. “The businesses are open. In the spring and fall, you can still have a lot of fun on the island.”

For a complete listing of events, go to and

Mayor Leonard Desiderio, whose family sponsors the Columbus Day Parade each year, gives the thumbs-up sign to start the procession in 2016.