If you can't find something to do at the shore this September, you may want to have someone check your pulse.

The summer tourist season is supposed to be over, but you wouldn't know it from the number of events and the crowds they draw.

Area towns and businesses have built the fall shoulder season into something tourists - and locals - look forward to each year.

The Jersey Shore economy remains a seasonal one, but the lure of September and October seems to grow each year.

The idea of holding special events to extend the summer season isn't new. Miss America grew out of the Atlantic City Pageant, a two-day event in 1921 aimed at bringing tourists back after Labor Day.

Some towns have always held events in September and October. What is new is the number of events, their variety and the way their success has grown.

Last weekend, airplanes were doing stunts off the Ocean City Boardwalk and Atlantic City's Bader Field hosted both a seafood festival and a triathlon. The New Jersey State Firemen's Convention was in Wildwood, and Cape May kicked off its weeklong Food & Wine Celebration.

And if that wasn't enough, a singer named Madonna performed at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

It didn't hurt that the weekend had some of the most beautiful weather of the year, still warm enough to sit on the beach and watch the brilliant sunshine on the water, but cool enough to comfortably stroll the Sea Isle City promenade's Fall Family Festival.

The events continue this weekend, with North Wildwood's Irish Fall Festival expected to bring 200,000 people to the resort and an Irish Weekend in Sea Isle City. Wildwood and Ocean City both host car shows. Atlantic City is trying something new - Sweat AC is a three-day health, exercise and nutrition expo at Caesars Hotel & Casino, Showboat Casino Hotel, Bally's Atlantic City and Harrah's Hotel and Casino.

And music festivals, fireworks, citywide yard sales, block parties and art shows are scheduled through the fall.

In fact, Ocean City stretches the shoulder season all the way to Dec. 31 with its family-friendly First Night.

These events are all the more important at a time when people are still keeping a tight hold on their wallets. By building on the success of the shoulder season, area towns and their merchants have found a way to help the local economy and help us all ease into the long winter ahead.


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