OCEAN CITY — Paul and Erica Kaser echoed what a lot the city’s visitors were probably thinking on the busy, cloudless Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
“We’re glad to be back,” said Paul Kaser, of Englewood, Bergen County, who also owns a home in Margate. “We wish it was a little warmer, but it’s better than nothing.”
After about seven months of rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy and worrying about the storm’s lingering impact on tourism, Ocean City looked as alive as ever once the weather warmed and people returned to the beach.
Saturday was cold and cloudy, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from walking the Boardwalk, including Gov. Chris Christie, which was a welcome sight for merchants and local officials.
“It was a decent night, not the best, but it really says a lot that there were crowds out given how cold and rainy it was,” said Ocean City Chamber of Commerce executive director Michele Gillian.
Sunday had obviously much better weather, and people filled the sidewalks along Asbury Avenue as well as the Boardwalk and the beaches.
“Our downtown has had a good weekend, which was much needed,” Gillian said.
Even at the south end of the island, where residents had been complaining for months that the city was not doing enough to replenish the beach, there was more than enough space for people sunning themselves. Some sand in the streets was the about the only remaining evidence of Sandy’s impact there.
There also were plenty of people walking and riding bikes along the recently opened path on the Route 52 causeway. The new welcome center on the bridge was not open, and likely will not be until next weekend, but many people stopped to take a look anyway and enjoy the view.
That’s where the Kasers were taking a break from their bike ride. Besides a rainy start to the holiday weekend and unofficial beginning of summer, they said there was little to complain about.
“Everything looks back to normal, and maybe even better with these new amenities,” Paul Kaser said.
Joining them at the bayside facility were Dave and Elisa Dewees, of Cherry Hill, who have family in Ocean City and were visiting for the weekend. They said they never had doubts about coming to the shore, and doubted others were deterred by memories of Sandy.
“I don’t think it’s going to inhibit anything,” Elisa Dewees said.
Dave Dewees said he believes most people understood the difference between the storm’s impact in the southern part of the shore and in northern New Jersey. He said they were in Ocean City days after the storm, and watched how quickly the city recovered.
“They were on it right away,” he said.
Bob and Peggy Interrante, of Blue Bell, Pa., who own a home on the island, also stopped by as they were walking their dog, Rosie, along the causeway. They were likewise impressed with the welcome center, as well as the two additional fishing piers that have opened since last summer.
“I really do think they did a great job with it,” Bob Interrante said.
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