AVON-BY-THE-SEA, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — It felt nothing like summer outside Saturday, but beach lovers and businesses were ready for Jersey Shore fun to resume.
As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, despite the March-like weather that was not to exceed 55 degrees Saturday, the spirit in Belmar was just the opposite – colorful and full of hope.
“I think everyone is in a very upbeat mood for sure,” said Ira Melon of Belmar. “We’re happy to have the shore back.”
Melon was one of many who took an early-morning run along the water, eager to celebrate the holiday weekend and the community’s comeback.
And in windy Bradley Beach, preparations were underway as officials kicked off the annual festival.
“We in Bradley Beach, we’ve got to go forward, and let’s try and enjoy ourselves the best we can,” said festival organizer Harvey Rosenberg.
From the games to the countless food stands and miles of rebuilt boardwalk, the Jersey Shore is officially back open for the first time since Sandy. On Friday, Gov. Chris Christie cut a more than 5-mile long ribbon to mark the start of summer tourist season.
The length of the ribbon, which symbolically tied together several shore communities that were hard-hit by Superstorm Sandy, set a new Guinness World Record.
Twins Jake and Jared Simonetti said they just had to be part of the festivities.
“We are just wow,” one of the boys said.
And the soggy and chilly rain certainly was not dampening the mood of business owners such as Angela Papoutsakis, who was forced to rebuild.
“I don’t know how we opened — open, we didn’t have money, I don’t know how we got it,” said Papoutsakis, owner of George’s Pizza. “With the help of everybody ”
Tourism is a $38 billion industry in New Jersey and shore towns are counting on a good summer to help them recoup major losses they incurred after the storm.
Christie said about 80 percent of the shore will look as it did last summer and acknowledged more work needs to be done to fully recover.
CBS 2’s Christine Sloan was on hand as the Governor told reporters that rebuilding the shore wasn’t about politics.
“When you’re the Governor you’re not a Republican or Democrat. You have a job to do, and the fact is that I am gratified people on the other side of the aisle are willing to work with me as I am willing to work with them,” he said.
The rain represented showers of good luck for what people in the area said represents a new start.
To see a list of open Jersey shore beaches or for more information, visit www.state.nj.us.
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