Bittersweet Romance

by Marilou Halvorsen, president NJRHA

My son Eric and daughter Sami

Flowers are bursting with color, the days are getting longer, and most of us couldn’t be happier. Soon, Memorial Day weekend will signify the official beginning of summer. Regardless of the heat and traffic, thousands of people will flock to our shoreline over the next three months.

With my husband Kevin

As a little girl, I grew up in Monmouth County a block from the beach. It was a big part of my childhood and remains significant for me today. I’ve passed my love of sand and water down to my kids who have spent every summer at the beach and now spend their summers working there. I even met my husband at the beach when we were 12 years old. While I can’t imagine living anywhere that doesn’t offer an ocean nearby, I’ve grown to understand the love-hate relationship many New Jerseyans experience this time of year.

Increased traffic is an unavoidable consequence of summer. Even by Jersey standards, traffic can be horrendous after Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Many business associates who live near shore towns refuse to
schedule meetings before noon on Mondays or after 2:00 pm on Fridays due to this unavoidable gridlock. It’s a fact of life. What helps keep my attitude positive while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic is the realization that many of my members have restaurants, hotels and attractions that rely on this robust season. Good weather and large beach crowds = prosperity for our state and the hospitality industry. So the next time you’re late and stuck on the Parkway, try to focus on that positive thought. Tourists equal revenue.

Enjoying a breezy day with my son Eric

What exit are you? A Parkway exit number says it all for what beach you’re visiting. Simply put, as New Jerseyans we quickly define ourselves by the exit where we live and work, so why would a vacation be any different? Unlike passengers on California’s famous Route 101, which offers 1,500 miles of beautiful views as you slowly weave along the Pacific coastline, we go fast and furious in New Jersey until we exit! Life begins when the car stops. Whether your stop is Long Branch (105), Asbury Park (100), Point Pleasant Beach (98), Seaside (82), Long Beach Island (63), Atlantic City (38), Ocean City (23) or Cape May (6), your exit defines you. I am an Exit 105 girl myself.

Are you going to the shore or the beach? The conundrum is understandable. I’ve had many visitors say, “Which is it?” or “Why is it called the shore and everywhere else in the country it’s called the beach?” The simple answer is this: locals call it the beach while visitors say “going down the shore” or “DTS.”  No matter which word you prefer, I hope you are able to enjoy the prosperity the summer brings to our industry. And before you visit, fill your gas tank, pack your patience and a towel, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen. One of the greatest gifts of the Garden State is that no matter where you live, you are never farther than an hour and half or two hours to the beach.