In case anybody was wondering, the ocean is now officially open after this morning’s “Unlocking of the Ocean” ceremony in Atlantic City.
While the persistent fog and chilly winds didn’t seem like the beginning of the summer season, the almost 100-year-old tradition went forward as scheduled — though the timing was moved up a little.
“We’ve had records since 1917,” Atlantic City Beach Patrol Chief Rod Aluise said of the ceremony, held on the beach in front of Resorts Atlantic City. “King Neptune, who actually had a trident, would actually open up the ocean. And in the ‘20s, the Miss America Pageant was conducted on the beach, so they were on the beach with Neptune in the fall.”
Since the 1920s, “Lifeguards have always been involved,” Aulise said. “We’ve had it before down at Boardwalk Hall, but typically we do it right here on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. But we’re doing something a little earlier this year.”
Part of the reason for the early ceremony was to show that the city was up and running as usual after Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Lorenzo Langford said
“I think this year it’s taken on additional significance,” Langford said, “and it’s important to collectively send the resounding message that the Boardwalk is fine, the beach is fine, and we’re ready for a very busy and prosperous summer season.”
Langford, presented the “key” to the ocean by Aluise with the help of the Atlantic City High School cheerleaders, stuck the key into the sand at the foot of the surf. Later, lifeguards rowed out into the ocean and dropped a ceremonial wreath into the waters.
In the background, barely visible, was both Steel Pier and the soon-to-open Landshark Bar & Grill at Margaritaville — which Steel Pier operator Anthony Catanoso said was a sign that good things would happen in the uptown district this summer.
“With our new rides, and Margaritaville, I think it’s going to be a banner year,” Catanoso said.