TO ALL the obnoxious, yakking, shoving, foul-breathed Central Park pigeon-feeders of New York City who were displaced by Sandy, the gentlefolk of Margate, Ventnor and Longport would like you to know you’re welcome to stay this summer.
Just don’t wear your damn N.Y. Rangers jersey into Maynard’s Café, said Ed Berger, president of the Margate Business Association.
To which this longtime Longporter visitor might add:
- Do not park on the beach blocks. And no, it doesn’t matter that you drive a Bentley.
- Do not order a “hero” at Sack O’Subs at 5217 Ventnor Ave., Ventnor. It is OK to call it a “hoagie,” however.
- Do not lay out your beach towel next to mine. Gimme some space, for cryin’ out loud. Also, use your inside voice.
- Do not whine that the bagels at Downbeach Deli, 8 S. Essex Ave., Margate, aren’t as good as back home. They’re freaking great, and so is their brisket.
- Do not go all Manhattan Taxi Driver on us and run over beachgoers crossing Atlantic Avenue. Pedestrians have the right of way.
More could be said, but that shouldn’t be necessary, for, as Berger noted, “There’s always been a lot of New Yorkers down here. “
Even with hordes of Hudson River hobos migrating down the Atlantic City Expressway, Berger predicted that a Big Apple influx post-Superstorm Sandy would have little “impact on the fabric or composition” of Philly’s Jersey Shore.
That’s good, because much of what Philadelphia loves about the Shore is its familiarity. The same salt air, the same sassy waitresses, the same handsome lifeguards on the stands.
- In Ventnor, familiarity is an early-morning bike ride along the stretch of Boardwalk that runs from Atlantic City, past quirky beach houses and old-timers on park benches.
- In Margate, it’s grabbing a treat at Junior’s Donuts & Dogs, on Amherst Avenue, before an afternoon fishing trip from the marina.
- In Longport, it’s a stroll past Victorian-style mansions toward the rocks at the point, for a beautifully serene sunset.
Still, even Fishtowners who’ve made the trek every summer for generations may not recognize the place this summer. Although Sandy didn’t do as much damage as it did up the coast, the flooding was enough to prompt many businesses and homeowners to do extensive face-lifting.
- Jerry Blavat’s Memories, on Amherst Avenue in Margate, has a new look inside. The popular Margate Dairy Bar, on Ventnor Avenue, was gutted, so its owner has set up a temporary pink-and-blue curbside trailer to continue scooping up ice cream. The Monaco hotel, long an eyesore along the Ventnor Boardwalk, is slated to make way for million-dollar townhouses. Word is demolition will get underway as early as June.
- And there are at least a half-dozen new businesses in Ventnor and Margate, including a “blowout” salon for post-beach spruce-ups, a couple of new boutiques, a sushi shop and an authentic South Philly-style sidewalk cheesesteak shop. All the repairs, teardowns and construction means you can expect to hear the constant bang of hammers on most days.
So, what else is new?
- It won’t get any louder than at the Ventnor Fishing Pier on June 26, when they’ll be “Rockin’ the Thunder” with a tremendously noisy air show.
- A few days later, on June 29, it’s Beachstock: The Planet’s Biggest Beach Party, on the Margate beach between Granville and Huntington avenues. More than 15,000 are expected to attend for a day of live music, food, contests, a beer garden and a bonfire.
- In Longport, look for the U.S. Navy SEAL challenge on Aug. 31. It’s like an Ironman competition on steroids, with contestants swimming before somehow hoisting a huge pipe on their shoulders for a three-mile run.
For many visitors, the biggest change may be to the beaches themselves.
Although the Shore’s greatest treasure largely survived, the sea stole a lot of sand, and now high tide is really high tide. Expect to see ugly pipes running from the ocean onto Ventnor’s beach for replenishment.
In Longport, meanwhile, the most lasting post-Sandy change will come after the summer. That’s when the borough is expected to begin construction of new sand dunes to help protect homes.
So, a final warning to New Yorkers: Do not complain about being forced to traipse over mounds of sand. At least you’ve got a beach to enjoy.