The beach is getting busy! Sunday ‘looked like the 4th of July’
An early Easter this year meant an early shoulder season for shops and eateries along the Jersey Shore — and as long as Mother Nature behaves, April can offer businesses some extra cash from summer-hungry residents.
Exit 98 Boutique on the Belmar boardwalk doesn't open officially until Mother's Day (May 8 this year), but the recent weather has been too nice to ignore. Owner Sari Perlstein opened her doors on Saturday, and the customers poured in.
"Saturday was busy; Sunday looked like the Fourth of July down here," Perlstein told New Jersey 101.5 while handling steady store traffic on Monday. "People are wound up, ready to roll, and I'm sure they called out of work."
That was the choice made by Middlesex resident Mike Lester. He can't remember the last time he was on a beach before May, so he couldn't pass up the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful beach day in mid-April.
"We'll spend most of the day, maybe stop at the outlets on the way home," he said. "Why spend it at work when we can be at the beach?"
Pennsylvania mother and son Annette Stolte and Chris Sacripanti took a 90-minute drive from Bethlehem to Belmar on Monday.
When the mercury was predicted to hit 80 degrees at home, in the middle of the week, they knew conditions would be perfect along Jersey's coast - not only in terms of the weather, but the amount of people.
"We got to park right on the main road and walk right on the beach," Stolte said.
"It's nice and open here; traffic wasn't bad," her son added.
The shoulder season in New Jersey is said to run from Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday until Memorial Day weekend.
With Easter arriving in late March this year, Casino Pier in Seaside Heights has an entire April's worth of weekends to bring in extra business before the busy season.
According to pier spokesperson Maria Mastoris, the weather has "kept things slow" until this past weekend, especially Sunday.
"We are hoping for more weather like today and this past weekend," Mastoris said Monday afternoon.
In Cape May County, officials say April has a lot of potential and some summer-only spots are opening their doors as the temperatures creep up.
"People are just waiting," said Diane Wieland, the county's director of tourism. "They want to get out here, they want to get down to the beach, they want to see all their favorite sites."
Weekend events are scheduled to ensure business in the slower months. The Exit Zero Jazz Festival runs from Friday to Sunday at a handful of venues in Cape May.
Making conditions even more ideal in April - getting onto the sand in New Jersey comes at no charge — at least for now.