By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
A highly visible act of vandalism over the summer destroyed Sea Isle City’s welcome sign that greets visitors arriving on the main artery into town.
Angered but undeterred by the sign’s destruction, city officials worked as quickly as possible with a contractor for a new one on Sea Isle Boulevard at the foot of the bridge entering the resort.
“The city wanted to replace the sign as soon as we could because having a welcoming entrance to the community is very important to us. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, as they say,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said Sunday.
Now, a new welcome sign is in place that once again declares, “Sea Isle City … A City For All Seasons.”
Decorated with a royal blue color scheme as the background, the sign also features gold and white lettering and a whimsically designed sun emblem.
The wording includes “Est. 1882,” giving motorists a quick history lesson about the year Sea Isle was founded by visionary real estate developer Charles K. Landis as a Venice, Italy-inspired beach resort.
The sign occupies a prominent place on Sea Isle Boulevard on the inbound side approaching the bridge into town.
For years, Sea Isle had another welcome sign in the same area that said, simply, “Welcome to Sea Isle City.”
The old, weather-beaten sign was removed when Sea Isle Boulevard underwent a multi-year, $12.7 million reconstruction project completed by Cape May County in 2019 to elevate the roadway above flood levels.
Vicki Pittaluga, who was Sea Isle’s assistant purchasing agent before retiring last year, is the one credited for coming up with the “A City For All Seasons” slogan for the new sign.
The same slogan can be found on Sea Isle’s municipal letterhead and on some of the banners that adorn the decorative lamp posts in town, including those lining the John F. Kennedy Boulevard entry corridor.
Custer, Mayor Leonard Desiderio and his wife, Carmela Desiderio, who recently retired as the city’s purchasing agent, jointly worked on designs for the welcome sign.
After a number of potential designs were considered, the mayor approved the colors and slogan for the new sign. It was first erected at the start of the summer tourism season last May. But in August, it was destroyed by vandals.
Custer said the city’s contractor, Sign-a-Rama of Cape May Court House, went to work to quickly replace the sign. The company made the original sign, so it already had the design on file.
“They were wonderful to work with,” Custer said of the sign company.
The new sign was installed on Tuesday. It is the same size as the one it replaced, but is more strongly reinforced, Custer said.
Police were conducting an investigation of the vandalism. Custer said she is not aware of anyone being arrested yet.