By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
On a day when the temperature dropped into the low 40s and a brisk wind made it feel even chillier, Tom Farrell bought something that seemed completely incongruous with the winter-like weather – beach tags.
Actually, he bought eight of them. At $20 each.
Although summer’s arrival is seven months away, the rush is on to buy Sea Isle City’s popular holiday beach tags. Wednesday was the first day the city offered them for sale.
This year, Sea Isle has a supply of 3,000 holiday beach tags. They are expected to sell out before Christmas.
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.
“They always sell out. It’s quite a hot commodity,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said. “They make great gifts. They are easy. It doesn’t take a lot of wrapping.”
Farrell, who lives in Havertown, Pa., and has a summer vacation place in Sea Isle, said he has been buying holiday beach tags for about 10 years. He noted that they make great stocking stuffers for his family.
“They love them. Now, they expect to get them,” Farrell said of his family members looking forward to getting the beach tags for Christmas.
Farrell, though, noted that one of the beach tags he bought Wednesday was for him.
The holiday-themed tags are good for the entire 2021 summer beach season. The discounted price of $20 represents a $5 savings over the full cost of a seasonal beach tag in Sea Isle.
Beach tags are required in Sea Isle from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.
Holiday beach tags are sold Monday through Saturday at the Sea Isle City Welcome Center on John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Members of the public are not allowed inside the Welcome Center during the coronavirus pandemic, but may buy their beach tags from a window in the front of the building.
They are also available every day of the week at a cash-only beach tag vending machine on the first floor of City Hall. Sea Isle has bragging rights for being the first town at the Jersey Shore to have a beach tag vending machine. It was introduced in late 2016.
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.
Sea Isle’s beaches were replenished this past summer with 760,000 cubic yards of new sand that widened the shoreline from 28th to 52nd streets and 74th to 93rd streets.