As the annual migration of Philadelphians “going down the shore” hastens, travelers should be aware of all that’s new at the beaches.
Many new businesses and events have come to the coastal towns along the Jersey shore, aiming to draw tourists from both within and outside the Jewish community.
One of the main topics of conversation in Margate and Longport in recent years was the construction of dunes and an outflow pipe along the beach.
Controversy swelled at the start of the Army Corps of Engineers’ installation, with several lawsuits and protests springing up to stop the project, all proving ineffective with its completion in 2017. And animosity toward the dunes has died down as their presence has become the new norm.
Randy Young is the owner of the Heritage Surf and Sport in Margate, about a block away from the beach. He said he hasn’t heard any complaints about the dunes from local residents lately, but speculated that people with beachfront property are probably still upset. The dunes ended up making the beach wider, causing people to walk a bit farther to get to the water. Businesses in the area took a bit of a dive the year the dune was constructed, but have since returned to prior levels.
“From what we can tell, business is pretty much back 100 percent,” Young said. “The beaches do seem to be back, people are coming and going to the beach, and that’s from a business standpoint. The economy has recovered from it, at least with mine and a few others.”
Speaking of businesses, several new kosher eateries have sprung up in the area in the past few years.
Ventnor’s kosher-certified Shalom Pita has opened for the season to scratch that summer itch for burgers, hot dogs and falafel. Ventnor is also home to Poppy’s Cafe and Commissary, a kosher burger and chicken deli a block from the boardwalk, opened in 2016. The convenience store is a place for vacationing Jews to stock up on kosher provisions.
For something a bit newer, there’s Shari’s Bistro in Somers Point. The kosher restaurant opened in November inside an 1884 Victorian mansion, home to the bed and breakfast Tavern on the Bay Resort, also kosher certified.
For activities, Congo Falls Adventure Golf opened a new location in Margate last summer. The new 18-hole jungle-themed mini golf is full of waterfalls and ponds to maneuver around.
On the entertainment side, Milton & Betty Katz JCC in Margate will host various musical acts throughout the summer.
A free musical tribute to Nat King Cole to commemorate his 100th birthday will take place at noon on July 11. The program, titled “Unforgettable,” will feature Dave Damiani and the No Vacancy Orchestra from California. The event, sponsored by the Schultz-Hill Foundation, will be the second in its Music & Memories series. RSVPs are required.
In addition, folk, country and rock ‘n’ roll singer-songwriter and Grammy Award winner Judy Collins will perform at 7 p.m. on July 18 at the JCC.
Next, Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show takes the stage at 7 p.m. on July 25 to bring audiences back to when Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop ruled the Las Vegas Strip.
And celebrity impersonators Eddie Edwards and Anthony Edwards come to the JCC at 7 p.m. on Aug. 8. Audience members will see them transform into a variety of characters from Barbra Streisand to Elton John.
Josh Cutler, program director at the JCC, said the summer is a time to bring people together, both locals and visitors, for a season of fun under the sun.
“I always joke that community is our middle name, and center is our last name,” he said. “So obviously we aim to be the center of the Jewish community. And, in doing so, we like to think that every denomination is welcome here with open arms, and we try our hardest to create a sense of openness and inclusion to be a part of our program. It’s a fun place to be.”
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