By Dari Kotzker
As temperatures soared and the heat index topped 100 degrees, people hit the beaches to escape the heat wave in the ocean waves.
“We actually heard that it was supposed to be 100 degrees inland so we figured if we came to the beach it would be a little bit colder,” said Newtown, Pa. resident Tyler Scott.
“I’m experiencing coming to this beach so I can dive, soak in the water and take advantage of the sun and fun and also do some shopping so I can get into the air conditioning,” Julie Terrell of Fairport, N.Y. said.
Lately, air conditioning’s a hot commodity down the shore. Although Seaside Heights businesses are not seeing the usual throng of tourists, some customers are seeking a cool refuge.
“Our ice cream sales are off the chart. With the amount of air conditioning we have inside, our building is set up that we can get a breeze through. It’s pleasant inside so it is bringing people inside,” said Scott Forner, gameroom manager of Shake Shop.
“I think it’s great for the town, the heat wave to be honest with you. It forces people to come to the ocean to get cooled off,” Shore Store owner Danny Merk said. “I’m doing better than last week, but last week was rainy and cloudy, so of course you’re always gonna do better than rain. So I gotta say yes, I’m happy there’s a heat wave right now.”
Whether they are day trippers or on vacation, shore tourists want to help rebuild the local economies and the recent weather is pushing them to do that even more.
“We’re spending the money here, it’s gonna make the economy go up, it’s gonna help the local businesses,” said Virginia Napolitano of Newburgh, N.Y. “It’s so hot out there, we’re like we gotta get something to quench our thirst, this and that, we’re getting a smoothy, a milkshake. Normally we’ll just deal with the water we have in our coolers, but we come up here, get out of the heat, get something to drink and then go back, it’s much better that way.”
Meanwhile, in Point Pleasant, business is sizzling on the beach and boardwalk. And people are spending how much?
“I don’t know if they spend more money. They might just spend their money differently. Sometimes there’s certain outdoor attractions that they might skip on a really hot day and then opt for the air conditioned attractions or the beach. And then when it’s not as hot, they’ll go back and visit the outdoor attractions,” said Jenkinson’s Boardwalk Director of Marketing Toby Wolf.
“It’s hot. That’s why we’re in the air conditioning right now. It’s a little hot. We went to the beach yesterday, felt the heat, got a little pink and now we’re here in the air conditioning relaxing, trying not to go in the sun too much,” said Kristin Zuck of Linden.
Seaside Heights officials say they’ve noticed during the heat wave, that the beach and the boardwalk are more crowded during the earlier part of the morning. As the day goes on, it lightens up and in the nighttime, it’s a different story.
“I would say as soon as the sun goes down it gets a little busier because it cools off a lot. It’s a real beautiful night to walk the boardwalk up and down in weather like this,” said Seaside Heights Public Information Officer Events Michael Graichen.
The heat wave is expected to break over the weekend. Businesses hope the revenue stream continues.