A trip “down the shore.” These words conjure images of the most magical part of summer vacation for kids along the mid-Atlantic coast. While going “down the shore” may mean different things to different people across the U.S., it means one destination in particular to dwellers of the mid-Atlantic states: a vacay on New Jersey’s beaches.
Sure, these days, the Jersey Shore has much more lurid connotations for the MTV generation, but to most of us, it implies sandy days at the beach, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and sunburned noses, capped off with evening strolls along the boardwalk complete with lotsa junk food and the occasional ride.
I admit that I took a multi-year hiatus from visiting the Jerz during my teens and 20s, but thanks to my parents and sister’s family jointly renting a shore house in Ocean City, NJ each summer, I’ve made the trek out there for a few nights over the past few summers.
I’m happy to report that the magic of the shore is alive and very well.
Ocean City is Norman Rockwell perfect: filled with families and freckled children, beach umbrellas and paddleball games, Mack & Manco pizza (no, I don’t care if the name changed it will ALWAYS be Mack & Manco to me!) and Kohr Bros. softserve and Voltaco’s cheesesteaks.
As soon as I sniff the ocean air, hear the screeching kids on the beach, walk the crowded boardwalk with little ones vying for hermit crabs and ride tickets, I can’t help but smile and relax.
Together, as a family we lug an army’s worth of beach gear to the water’s edge, and dig, swim and giggle together. Then night falls and sand and sunblock are showered off, sunburns emerge, Voltaco’s is eaten, ride tickets are doled out and its time to hit the boards. Hop aboard a roller coaster, toss my hands to the wind on the swings and whoop for all I’m worth.
It’s summer at the shore. And it’s lovely.