This won’t be the same Seaside Heights I’ve known all my life (Opinion)
The town made famous by the TV show Jersey Shore, or maybe it’s the other way around, Seaside Heights is reopening. This Friday, May 15 the beach and boardwalk will be open. This is a phase one with the following restrictions.
You’ll be allowed onto the beach at very few entry points. You can walk, jog, surf and fish. What you CAN’T do is swim or sunbathe, and you won’t be allowed a blanket, chair, or cooler. You won’t be allowed on in a group bigger than ten and everyone must stay six feet apart.
You must remain six feet apart on the boardwalk too and no bathrooms will be open, and the beach and boardwalk close at 5pm.
In phase two which runs May 23 through June 30, same hours for beach, 10am to 5pm but boardwalk will be open 7am to 10pm. Still no swimming but apparently you can sunbathe. Still no coolers. More beach entry points open, still no more than a group of ten, still maintaining at least six feet apart.
On the boardwalk bathrooms will be open but will be monitored by staff. Distance must still be maintained.
Is it workable? We will see. Is it worth it? That’s up to you.
To me, it’s heartbreaking.
Seaside Heights is my beach town. I grew up in Union County and several times a summer from the time I could walk my parents took my brother and me there. My first haunted house ride was there. My first time touching sand. My first time playing miniature golf on rooftops (and to this day the only place I’ve been to quirky enough to have that).
My dad taught me how to play Skee Ball there in Seaside Heights. My mom eased my toddler fear of something that brushed me in the water.
I grew up with Seaside Heights as part of my every summer. I remember Sodl’s restaurant on the boardwalk and their ice cream waffles and that big swordfish on the wall. The first time I kissed a girl on a ride it was there. The first time I had a cheesy fortune told on a boardwalk it was in Seaside Heights. When it was time to take my own kids to their first boardwalk, that’s where we went.
So if this sounds like a love letter, it is. And now my heart hurts a bit to imagine such a magical place turned into a cause for worry and separation and rules. I understand it’s necessary. This isn’t a complaint. For me it’s just a sad reminder that when things reopen, this really isn’t done.
As much as navigating a packed boardwalk was frustrating with some oblivious people being in your way, some crowding you in the line at Kohr’s so close you could smell their sweat and suntan lotion, I now miss it.
I’ll miss the throngs. I’ll miss the people watching. I’ll miss seeing a cute baby in a stroller and asking a stranger within six feet, “How old?” I’ll miss being handed change for a slice of pizza from Maruca’s without thinking about my 3 year-old boy growing up without his dad.
On a positive note, the things that will never change even a hundred years from now when all of us are gone. The salt in the air. The sound of the gulls. The unending, timeless movement of the surf meeting the sand. At least no virus is ever taking that away.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.