SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – This holiday, many continued their tradition of going to the Jersey Shore.
But with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s hardly business as usual for merchants along the boardwalk.
Stubborn clouds and a cool ocean breeze didn’t stop many from hitting the Seaside Heights boardwalk Monday, but many said it certainly feels different this year, reported CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock.
While the sound of seagulls filled the air, there was only silence inside the arcades. Souvenir and clothing stores sat shackled and from the air, Drone Force 2 spied the amusement rides powered down. Few braved the cool sand, while many made it their mission to be there today.
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“Tradition,” said Rich Baccello of Eastchester. “This weather and corona doesn’t stop us.”
For the Baccello family, strolling the boardwalk on Memorial Day is a must.
“Always, since I was a kid, since my mother was a kid. It’s tradition. We have to come,” Rich said. “Everyone keeps their distance. We’ll get out of this, you feel safe.”
“It definitely feels different. The arcades are closed,” said Emily Spennato.
Restaurants, though, are open, and that means Spennato and her family could not go without a slice.
“This is Maruco’s pizza, and this is absolutely tradition,” Emily said.
At Jimbo’s, the grill’s hot and drinks to go get served up to make ends meet. Still not the same as having a bar – an empty bar – swell with people.
“It’s a scary time instead of an exciting time,” said Jimbo’s general manager Kim Abraham.
She told Murdock that instead of welcoming a staff of 80 this weekend, they’re just 10 strong.
“This is by far our worst Memorial Day Weekend,” she said.
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Sonny’s & Rickey’s wants everyone strolling by to know – they’re missed. So is the symphony of quarters getting dropped into the machines there.
“It’s the first weekend we make some money,” said Sonny & Rickey’s manager Walter Pineda. “Every year is different, weather dependent. Sandy, fire, now with this going on, I don’t know.
Pineda told Murdock he at this point hopes he’ll at least be able to open a couple of weeks before July 4th.
“This is very sad. It almost reminds me of Sandy clip,” Juan and Kerry Munoz told Murdock.
They described their stroll as somber – so few people compared to years past, and too many stores shuttered for the start of summer.
“Everything should just get back to normal,” they told Murdock.