Jersey Shore towns prepare for hopeful influx of tourists

Businesspeople in suits and dresses go into the Atlantic Ocean as part of opening ceremonies in Ocean City, N.J. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Businesspeople in suits and dresses go into the Atlantic Ocean as part of opening ceremonies in Ocean City, N.J. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Atlantic City and Ocean City, New Jersey were among the towns holding ceremonies to mark the unofficial start of the summer season. Both business owners and tourists are happy that mask mandates have been eased.

Members of the business community donned suits and dresses to take their annual plunge into the chilly Atlantic Ocean in Ocean city as a signal that the tourism season is underway.

Mayor Jay Gillian says Ocean City is open for business and they are doing their best to welcome back the tourists, many of whom took 2020 off because of the COVID -19 pandemic.

“It’s been a great learning experience, it’s made all the businesses think about how to be healthy. I’m proud of everybody but I’m glad to be back to as normal as we can.”

Zella Langwa was among those on the beach and says he loves the shore town.

“Life was difficult for a little while with the masks and the quarantine, and everything, now that we are past that things are normal which is nice.”

Langwa says the pace is easier during the off-season at a resort town such as Ocean City, and it picks up once the tourists return from Memorial Day to Labor day.

Unlocking of the ocean in Ocean City, N.J. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Mayor Gillian says even though the weekend forecast is full of rain, he’s confident that it’s going to be a good summer.

“Believe it or not this reminds me of a traditional Memorial Day. My father always said if it’s a rainy Memorial Day we have a great season so I’m happy for this today”

And the pandemic appears to have created some pent-up demand for the real estate market.

Real Estate agent John Walton says both rentals and sales are up. “All of the prime inventory for rentals was pretty much booked by March, and now we have a supply and demand issue which means it’s good for sellers, somewhat difficult for buyers, and the realtors are running around like chickens with their heads cut off but we’re trying to keep things together.”

Ocean City officials say they are hopeful this will be the summer when things are back to normal, and tourists flock back to town.

Gillian adds that he hopes mask mandates imposed by businesses are respected and urges people to peacefully coexist no matter what your masking preference.

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