To many of us, it looks as if they are two different places — shore towns in the winter and shore towns in the summer.
Driving around during winter, we can pull right into a parking spot — any parking spot — because they are mostly empty. We get out of our cars to bone chilling air. The sky is grey. Rides are still. Businesses are closed. We’re alone. Our local expression, “the shore is dead in the winter,” feels very true.
In summer, season residents return, tourists visit, and in many cases the population grows tenfold, or several tenfolds.
How does a town prepare for it all?
According to John Camera, Borough Administrator for Seaside Heights, the municipality has approximately 60 year-round public workers on staff. These employees are responsible for the town’s upkeep, by replacing the boardwalk, raking and moving sand on the beach, and similar maintenance tasks.
In the preseason, the municipality sets up its payroll for the approximately 100 seasonal workers it hires. Lifeguards, beach patrol, and other public workers allow the borough to handle the magnitude of summer visitors.
“The cost of these extra employees should not fall on taxpayers,” Camera said. Seaside Heights has approximately 3,000 year-round residents. The number increases to an average 30,000 daily overnight stays in the summer.
Behind the scenes, the Business Improvement District (BID), which encompasses every commercial property within the district, never stops working. BID is responsible for Seaside’s events, marketing, beautification, and revitalization
“Business development is a year round process,” Maria Maruca, Executive Director of BID, said. Events are sponsored throughout the fall & winter to keep the momentum going. Maruca calls this effort “the pregame warm-up.”
In late winter and early spring, the Polar Bear Plunge, Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, and beach-wide Easter Egg hunt on Palm Sunday bring thousands of visitors into town.
Promoting tourism during the shoulder season is essential to the borough’s revenue. “We push to help the business community expand by making a conscious effort to promote ourselves and keep the town viable,” Camera said.
Maruca said the BID brings in tourism, effectively lowering local residents' taxes and increasing the likelihood of vacation properties being rented.
Come late spring, BID puts the finishing touches on the borough’s prime season free events. It finalizes entertainment for Music Mondays and selects films for Sunday and Thursday night screenings. Bid also sponsors fireworks on Wednesday nights.
Additionally, BID focuses on boardwalk design and beautification. It puts out banners, beach pricing signs, and extra recycling bins.
Of course, all this needs to be done by Memorial Day weekend, when the ramp-up ends and the hustle and bustle begins.
“We are known as a fun resort with reasonable prices,” Camera said. “We have something for everyone.”