OCEAN CITY — Brian Hartley believes his resort can’t have as many bad weather holiday weekends this year as it did last year.
“Last year, we had rain on Memorial Day, a washout. We had rain on the Friday night of Fourth of July weekend and the Fourth of July. We had the never-happened hurricane of Labor Day weekend that scared everybody away,” said Hartley, vice president of Playland’s Castaway Cove.
Press Meteorologist Dan Skeldon predicted a mostly sunny and 70-ish-degree three-day weekend this year.
Hartley was eagerly waiting to see riders’ reaction to his new Gale Force roller coaster, which was accepting its first riders at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Gale Force stands taller than 120 feet and reaches speeds of 64 mph.
“We are hoping with the addition of the coaster that it will be our big draw for the summer, now that it’s open, that it’s going to big a lot more people, that they are going to want to come down here,” said Hartley, who added roller coaster enthusiasts have been contacting him from overseas about it.
Cody Schweim, 10, was excited to ride the Gale Force, but it was unclear whether his father, Bob Schweim, 55, would take him without his twin brother, Colin.
The elder Schweim, who has lived in Ocean City year-round since 1993, often surfs at the Seventh Street beach and relaxes at the 24th Street beach.
“Every summer is a good summer,” said Schweim, who is looking forward to Night in Venice on July 22.
Jonathan Wheeler, 73, of Philadelphia, was content to sit on a bench Saturday afternoon outside of Gillian’s Wonderland Pier and let his wife, his daughter and three of his grandchildren entertain themselves in the amusement park.
Wheeler has owned summer places in Longport, Margate and Ventnor and for the past 17 years has been coming to this resort at least twice a summer with grandchildren.
“Ocean City is very safe, very clean and very family-oriented. It has a wonderful Boardwalk,” Wheeler said.
Holly Kisby has worked at Shriver’s for 24 years, the past 15 as general manager. She said Boardwalk businesses depend on good weather to bring the people down.
“People want to get to the Shore. They want to experience summer before it’s actually here,” Kisby said. “I think we have that on our side. People are just itching to feel like it’s summertime.”
As the manager of the Seventh Street Surf Shop, Colin Devine said he is always excited about summer.
Even during the recession, this resort has a niche of people who come year after year.
“I don’t think we were ever hit too hard by the recession. Obviously, any merchant would like to see a growth pattern,” said Devine, whose store has been in business for 31 years.
The seasonal shop opened on weekends as of Mother’s Day and now is open every day.
Summer is the smallest season for surfing, because of the mellower waves, but they compensate for the lack of surfers by hosting surf lessons, Devine said.