By Lauren Wanko
Jersey Shore business owners want Mother Nature to give them a break, especially after a rainy Memorial Day weekend.
“The weather was absolutely a disservice,” said Surfside Motel owner Mark Larsen. “It was pretty bad Friday and Saturday with the weather.”
At the Surfside Motel in Seaside Heights, about 75 percent of the rooms were booked. Still five or six vacationers canceled their reservations because of the weather. So how did this Memorial Day weekend compare to last year?
“It’s off. Talk to every business owner, my friends and everything on the boardwalk, we’re all off. But we all share the same feeling that we’re happy that we’re open,” said Just Breakfast owner Dave Boukili.
“It was a little depressing. There wasn’t as many people and I think that had a lot to do with the weather. I think if it was sunny all weekend long, everybody would have come down, cause that’s just what Jersey does,” said Seaside Heights resident Joyce Cevetello.
Bad weather was an issue for shore communities up and down the coast until the later part of the weekend when the clouds cleared and the sun came out. The Greater Wildwoods Tourism Authority says they saw more day-trippers than last year. Rainy conditions discouraged vacationers who would normally stay overnight. And the chilly water temperatures kept even more people on the boardwalk this year.
Farther north in Point Pleasant Beach, Jenkinson’s Boardwalk says business this Memorial Day surpassed last year. Attendance was high on attractions like games and the aquarium. Vacationers took refuge there in when the rain moved in.
Back in Seaside Heights, Coin Castle saw a similar steady flow of foot traffic.
“We were lucky. In spite of the rain on Saturday, we did almost the same as the year before. But we are indoors. Even with the rain people could get out of the rain by coming into the arcade, so we had a really nice weekend,” said Wayne Cimorelli, general manager and co-owner of Coin Castle.
Although inclement weather can keep tourists away from the shore, business owners say this year Sandy continues to attract a different crowd — the curious.
“In this business, you just want to have a big crowd. It doesn’t matter if they’re curious or not, just to come here. Obviously they’re gonna have to spend some money. They’re gonna park, they’re gonna pay for parking, they’re gonna pay for pizza, they’re gonna be thirsty so everybody benefits from the fact people are coming to Seaside, the shore,” Boukili said.
“People were really supportive. It was an emotional weekend. I’ve never heard customers thank us for rebuilding. It was different than any other Memorial Day weekend I can remember,” said Cimorelli.
The rain, clouds and chilly temperatures are back along the Jersey Shore, but forecasters are predicting a hot and sunny weekend. That’s something business owners are counting on.