By Donald Wittkowski
Dave Cornwell promised his audience of smiling children at Sea Isle City’s Octoberfest celebration Saturday that he would make some snow using what he called his “magic paper.”
“Make sure you have a whole roll,” he told them, referring to the white toilet paper in his hand.
With that, Cornwell placed some paper in a black box and had one child step forward on the stage at Excursion Park to peek inside.
Presto! Out popped a snowy white rabbit to the squeals of delight from the children.
Cornwell, a magician with Center Stage Entertainment of Clementon, Camden County, wasn’t the only one performing tricks during Octoberfest.
Mother Nature conjured up some pretty nice weather for the festival after the initial forecast called for occasional rain and 40 mph wind gusts at the shore. By early Saturday afternoon, the gray skies began to disappear and the sun made an appearance.
Cecil Locatelli, despite temperatures in the 50s, showed up at Octoberfest wearing shorts. He didn’t seem to mind the chill while ordering a bratwurst sandwich topped with sauerkraut and mustard.
“It’s my tradition. I refuse to wear pants until Nov. 1. I try to keep the summer going,” explained Locatelli, who lives in Old Bridge, Middlesex County, and owns Spinners Pizza in Sea Isle.
However, Mary Ann McFadden was bundled up for a winter-like day. She wore a cap, scarf, gloves and turtleneck sweater along with a coat.
McFadden, though, said she looked forward to spending time at Octoberfest with her husband, Jim. They live in Sea Isle and try to attend the festival every year.
“The city does a great job organizing events for families,” Mary Ann McFadden said.
Octoberfest followed Friday night’s Halloween parade that attracted thousands of costumed children and their parents to town. Both events are part of a family-friendly lineup of entertainment sponsored by the Sea Isle City Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization.
Christopher Glancey, Chamber of Commerce president, said the organization decided seven years ago to add more weekend events during the fall and spring shoulder seasons to accommodate the city’s growing number of vacation-home owners as well as generate more business for local merchants. He characterized the campaign as a success.
“A lot of it is weather-dependent,” Glancey said. “But as long as the weather holds out and the weekends are nice, it’s busy.”
Octoberfest is held in Excursion Park, steps from the ocean off the John F. Kennedy Boulevard entryway. Christina and Robert Iannelli, who live on 40th Street across from Excursion Park, brought their 3-year-old grandson Robert and 2-year-old granddaughter Sofia to the event.
“They always do a lot for the families in Sea Isle,” Robert Iannelli said as his grandchildren amused themselves by painting pumpkins.
In addition to offering children’s activities, Octoberfest combines German-flavored food with live entertainment and arts and crafts. Local vendors set up tents at Excursion Park to sell novelties, holiday decorations, jewelry, clothing, shoes, fruits and vegetables and other things.