As the sun rose over the shore Tuesday morning, the weather was the same - warm, sunny, a slight breeze - but the summer crowds had seemingly vanished overnight.
The lines are shorter for morning coffee. The backups at lights are almost nonexistent. The number of people wearing T-shirts helpfully emblazoned with the name of the town decreases noticeably.
"We get the town back," explained Toni Campbell, of Ventnor.
The simple matter of the calendar switching to the day after Labor Day results in a vastly changed atmosphere at the shore. But while many locals are always thrilled that they get to "take back" the shore, business owners are always concerned about the source of much of their income packing up and driving away - either extremely slowly or well over the speed limit, if you ask locals about it.
American Legion Brigantine Post 396 best sums up the local zeitgeist with its annual "Shoobie Tuesday" party, which celebrates the end of the summer season with a DJ and a cash bar.
"It started on the beach, maybe in the '90s," said Post 396 member Joe Handle. "Then the Legion kind of picked it up and kept it going since the late '90s."
The most surprising thing about Shoobie Tuesday, Handle said, is its recent popularity among the tourists themselves. Perhaps they took the name as an invitation.
"There was so much negativity about people using the word 'shoobie' that all the shoobies showed up to see what it was about," Handle said of the 2012 event. "So they came. It was no big deal. ... We pretty much had a ball."
There have been worse things said about summer visitors and residents. Brigantine made national news a few years ago when stickers with an outline of a foot - which according to the website selling them, stood for "I ain't no (expletive) Out-Of-Towner" - appeared on several cars in the City Hall parking lot, though no one in City Hall claimed to know about them.
But the term "shoobie" has stood the test of time as the name of choice for the summer people. While most accounts trace the name to 1800s day-trippers who arrived by railroad and brought their lunches in shoeboxes, the term has gained a new life in the last 15 years thanks to the early 2000s Nickelodeon cartoon "Rocket Power," in which young surfers and skateboarders had to deal with the comically rotund, socks-and-sandals-wearing "shoobies" who flooded their town every summer.
As a result, local teens and twentysomethings love to poke fun at "shoobies" on Twitter, usually about their clothing decisions, seagull-feeding habits, driving and/or crosswalk issues and supposed cluelessness. Some examples:
@Nikki_DeMarco: "I think the happiest part of my work day is going to be driving into Margate and not seeing or nearly killing any shoobies. Today = good day"
@kaywowww: "Dear shoobies, the boardwalk is like driving, you walk on the right side, sincerely locals"
@denimaguirexo: "These people near me on the beach googled 'what is a shoobie' and are reading it out loud... They must be shoobies"
@BrothamanSlam: "It's not the fact you don't live here, it's how you act, dress, and disturb the local flow. #Shoobies"
Still, the shoobies have had their defenders, kind of.
"A small part of me will miss having shoobies around," admitted @RobbyLemons13 on Shoobie Tuesday.
Some locals felt the same way.
"I miss the crowds," said Anthony Cappuccio, of Margate, eating breakfast on a quiet Ventnor Avenue. "I like it busy. ... Last night I went to a couple of restaurants and they were both empty. Ever since I was a kid, I would walk out the morning after Labor Day and I would feel so sad."
Others, not so much.
"I love it when they all go home," said Irene Levitt, of Margate. "We were one of those people for many years. But now we want them to go home."
"We enjoy the peace and quiet," added Ellis Levitt. "You don't have to worry about getting hit by three old ladies in a car going down Atlantic Avenue."
"It's quiet, you can park on the street, and you can get a reservation at a restaurant," said Donnie Weismer, of Ventnor.
Even self-described shoobies Linda Scherr and Rina Vassallo, Pennsylvanians with summer homes in Margate and Ocean City, respectively, said they love September.
"It's just like August, without the people," Vassallo said. "I always took a vacation in September down here. But I don't think you should tell anybody. It's best kept secret."
Jim Harrigan, of Ventnor, was being positive when he called the city "a ghost town."
Needless to say, that is not about to be any city's marketing slogan any time soon.
"What's a 'shoobie'?" said a mock-serious Ed Berger, president of the Margate Business Association. "We hate to see summer end - and we don't think it does end."
Citing events such as this month's Tour de Downbeach and Fall Funfest, "Margate doesn't close," Berger said. Besides, "I don't know when the chief of police turns the lights on Atlantic Avenue back to flashing (yellow), but that's more of an event in my life than the day after Labor Day."
Tracey DuFault, executive director of the Greater Wildwoods Chamber of Commerce, also cited a number of upcoming events in what the Wildwoods call "the Second Season."
"It's sad that some locals have that 'goodbye, shoobies' attitude," DuFault said. "Cape May County is a tourist destination. When you purchase a house on an island, you know it's a resort island. If you didn't have tourists, everyone would be affected by it: jobs, the economy, taxes would go sky-high. We need to be a little more appreciative of tourists."
Still, many locals were well aware of the fact that the second homeowners and renters are the lifeblood of the economy.
As @trAshcan_Man0 wrote on Twitter: "Everyone's complaining about the shoobies. They're the reason my dad has a job. Actually they're the reason most people in this area do."
Harrigan gets it. To everything, there is a season.
"I love to see tourists here," Harrigan said. "And I love to see 'em leave."
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