By MADDY VITALE
Sea Isle City announced Thursday that the Skimmer Festival that heralds in the summer season and attracts tens of thousands of people to the town will have an abbreviated version to the popular weekend in June.
The Skimmer Festival originated after the 1962 storm that devastated the town. The following year city leaders wanted to host an event that would showcase the community and came up with the event.
Since then, it has continued to be one of the city’s largest and most successful attractions.
But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the weekend filled with activities has had to be curtailed.
“I am sad to report that we are once again cancelling the majority of events planned for this year’s Skimmer Festival in June – in particular, the festival’s vendors market on the promenade, food court on JFK Boulevard and family activities at Excursion Park on Saturday, June 20,” Mayor Leonard Desiderio explained in a statement.
The mayor stressed that the difficult decision came for the safety of attendees due to social distancing guidelines.
However, that doesn’t mean visitors and residents won’t have a host of attractions to keep them busy and entertained during the special Father’s Day weekend.
Like the Skimmer Festival of 2020, there will still be a major highlight – especially for car buffs – with the annual Skimmer Antique Auto Show. It will take place on Sunday, June 20. After the auto show, there will be a parade of the vintage cars.
The cars and trucks will be lined up along the Promenade. There is ample room to spread them out to allow spectators to practice social distancing, Sea Isle City Public Information Officer Katherine Custer explained.
“It is a great way to celebrate Father’s Day with your dad. Each year we get an impressive turnout of classic vehicles. We are fortunate to have a lot of car enthusiasts participate in the event year after year,” Custer said. “It seems there are always new vehicles we haven’t seen before. It is a really great event.”
Custer added that the decision to cancel major parts of the Skimmer Festival weekend was the wise choice during the ongoing pandemic.
“Considering how popular the festival is and the huge crowds that attend, especially on Saturday of Skimmer Festival weekend, it doesn’t make sense from a safety perspective to host an event that could place so many people literally shoulder to shoulder on the Promenade,” Custer said.
In addition to the auto show and parade, shopkeepers will have the opportunity to display an array of merchandise or pitch their services for a second year in a row to festival goers outside of their businesses during a “Skimmer Sidewalk Sale” over the weekend.
“Mayor Desiderio is inviting all of the merchants with brick and mortar storefronts to participate in a sidewalk sale in each of our business districts,” Custer said. “Last year we got a lot of positive feedback from our business owners. Our business owners always go the extra mile to make their customers feel welcome and offer quality merchandise and services.”
She said the hope is that 2022 will bring the return of the full Skimmer Festival weekend event lineup.
“We are very much anticipating that Skimmer will be back in 2022. It is a very popular festival,” Custer said. “People love it and look forward to it and for many it is the first event of the summer season that gets them outdoors and in the fresh salt air.”