Rain-soaked Remembrance Day Saturday delays return to normal in Shore
The mask’s warrant has been lifted. Social distancing requirements were all but gone. Millions of people in the state had been vaccinated. Even the dance floors were finally open again.
The stage was set for a successful opening of the summer season on the Jersey Shore, as the masses, emerging from a dismal year largely spent in isolation, were about to arrive for a long weekend in the sun. and surf.
Then the rains came.
Conditions at the coast on Saturday were downright rough, about the opposite of what businesses and visitors were hoping for on a holiday weekend. Constant and heavy rain pounded the area for much of the day, with winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour along the coast and high temperatures struggling to reach the mid-1950s, about 15 to 20 degrees below normal for this time of year.
The Mount Holly National Weather Service said some places could set record temperatures.
The beaches were empty. The boardwalks teeming with people on a sunny day were sorry. Some food stalls remained closed as their owners chose not to open.
The weather was a bummer for Flawn and Paul Marshall of Highland, New York, who huddled under an umbrella with their 7-year-old daughter, Madeline, to admire the foam of the Atlantic Ocean from Pier Village in Long Branch. The couple, big fans of the movie “Clerks,” stopped in the morning at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash comic book store in Red Bank. The store is owned by actor and comedian Kevin James, the star of the 1994 comedy, which was filmed in Middletown.
The family stopped at Long Branch after Madeline said she wanted to see the ocean.
“We have our ponchos. We have our umbrellas. We make the most of it, ”said Paul Marshall.
At the Corner Café and Bistro in Pier Village, business was much slower than manager Brianna Capraun expected. The tables were still largely empty at noon.
“I heard it was going to rain, but I had a slight hope that it wouldn’t and that it would be a lot busier and that we would be criticized right now,” Capraun said. “It’s pretty disappointing because I know a lot of people were planning on coming here and even being home and barbecuing, which kind of ruins it.
The rain arrived on Friday evening and continued to peel the area during the early hours of Saturday. After a slight respite in the early afternoon, the showers returned later in the day with a persistent whipping wind.
Another storm system is likely to make Sunday another washout. But the sun could return by Monday, pushing temperatures back into the 1970s, forecasters say.
A coastal flood warning is in effect for Monmouth and Ocean counties from 9 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday with forecasters warning of 1 to 2 feet of storm surge in vulnerable low-lying areas.
And if for some reason beachgoers were tempted to swim in the ocean, forecasters warned of a high risk of rip currents until Sunday.
Demand was well below forecast at three COVID-19 vaccination sites set up in Pier Village on Saturday, Convention Hall in Asbury Park and the Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook as part of the “Shots at the Shore” initiative.
Organizers planned to vaccinate thousands of bathers who could receive the blow on their way to and from shore this weekend. As of 12:30 p.m. Saturday, about seven people had been vaccinated at Sandy Hook and Long Branch sites and 34 in Asbury Park, said Art Gallagher, director of program and resource development for the VNA at the Central Jersey Community Health Center, who reported supplied the Johnson and Johnson and Moderna vaccines at all three sites. Walmart provided the Pfizer vaccine.
Gallagher said he was impressed with the turnout at Asbury Park despite the weather.
“This weekend is to celebrate the heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice and we have heroes here working today, nurses and staff fighting to get us back to a way of life. And it’s gratifying that people are coming, ”he said.
But he said the conditions were having an impact.
High winds on Sandy Hook forced staff to dismantle tents and bring a converted bus to operate the site. Gallagher said if the rain continued, the three sites would likely vaccinate around 150 or 200 people together by the end of Sunday.
“The weather has definitely been a bit better. There is no doubt about it. If the boardwalk was full here today we would have done 300 or 400 by now, and the same at Long Branch, ”he said.
This was not how it was supposed to be.
Already in December, Governor Phil Murphy viewed Memorial Day weekend as a potential step in the state’s recovery from COVID-19.
In recent weeks, as the vaccination effort intensified, cases and hospitalizations have plunged statewide. More than 4 million people in New Jersey are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 8.6 million doses have been administered in a state of approximately 9 million people, according to the State Department of Health .
Restrictions that have remained a stubborn part of daily life in New Jersey since March 2020 were quickly lifted. Outdoor gathering limits are now gone. Residents are no longer required to follow the 6 foot distance rule. And perhaps the biggest blow to date, Murphy announced that starting Friday, masks will no longer be needed in most interior spaces.
Murphy said relinquishing the Mask’s tenure was “one of the biggest steps yet, if not the biggest step we can take to move forward with our recovery and get back to the things we all love with the people we love. we love in the places we love. “
But on Saturday, those things more often involved a warm blanket and a good book than a trip to the beach and the boardwalk.
Still, the outlook was not bleak for everyone.
Business owners said the weather was often choppy on Memorial Day weekend, and sunnier days later this summer would likely allow them to make up for any lost business.
Patty Barber, senior vice president of Silverball Retro Arcade on Asbury Park promenade, said business was stable despite the rain. After a year where staff had to literally count customers on whiteboards to make sure the arcade wasn’t overcapacity, she said things were finally starting to look what they were before all else. disturbances caused by the virus.
Some customers playing classic arcade games have chosen to skip the mask.
“I feel like it’s a relief coming from our shoulders,” Barber said. “And you can see the happiness of all of our customers.”
And at the Asbury Park vaccination clinic, Jace Costa, 29, received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as a Mother’s and Father’s Day gift for his parents, Nancy and Robert. The Bradley Beach couple wanted to visit Jace, who lives in Baltimore, for Father’s Day and they wanted the family to spend time with Jace’s pregnant sister without worrying about passing on the virus.
Jace said the vaccination process was quick and painless and said the vaccine “definitely took a lot of pressure off me.”
And even though his parents said the vaccine was enough of a gift this year, he is still considering buying them gifts.
Andrew Goudsward: [email protected]; @agoudsward on Twitter.