Visitors flocked Tuesday to South Jersey’s beaches, boardwalks, state parks and campgrounds to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, food and fun.
The nice weather at the shore packed beaches in Atlantic City, lifeguards said. The senior lieutenant of the Atlantic City Beach Patrol said there were just fewer than 100,000 people on the beach Tuesday and he expected to surpass that number Tuesday night as the time for fireworks grew closer.
But Tuesday wasn’t the busiest day for Atlantic City lifeguards.
“Sunday was the largest non-special-events crowd,” said Lt. John Ammerman, who has been a lifeguard for 31 years. “The beach was packed from end to end like there was a concert.”
The influx of people from Atlantic City to Cape May also increased the potential for any problems to arise.
Atlantic City lifeguards reunited about 25 lost children with their parents each day Saturday and Sunday. The rip currents were moderate to mild, Ammerman said. Lifeguards rescued 13 people Sunday, four people Monday and five people as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
In Brigantine, the fire department responded to dozens of calls.
“The Brigantine Fire Department responded to over 40 calls for service this holiday weekend,” said Chief Tiger Platt. “The crowds seemed to be larger than previous years, most likely due to the beautiful weather and the long weekend.”
On Sunday, the department had to use all three ambulances at the same time, Platt said. Most of the calls over the weekend were routine, and there were no major incidents, he said.
After a sunny, hot and humid Sunday and Monday, an ocean breeze provided some relief Tuesday. Partly sunny skies and comfortably warm temperatures were a treat for parade-goers, pool parties, backyard barbecues, and anyone who spent the holiday outdoors.
But one complaint over the weekend was an unseasonably cold ocean.
The average ocean temperature in early July is about 69 degrees. Surf temperatures from Long Beach Island to Cape May this holiday weekend were only about 59 degrees, keeping many people out of the ocean altogether.
Inland, tourists enjoyed state parks and campgrounds after the state Legislature passed a budget that ended a three-day shutdown of nonessential state services.
Most South Jersey beaches were not affected by the state shutdown because they under municipal control.
“We did receive a number of phone calls at the welcome center inquiring if our beaches were open,” said Katherine Custer, Sea Isle City’s director of community services. “There’s a lot of people on the island today. I don’t think (the state shutdown) affected us.”
Officials in Avalon agreed.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen the beaches as crowded as they are today,” said Scott Wahl, the business administrator of Avalon.
Weather-wise, it was one of the nicer Fourth of Julys in South Jersey over the last five years.
Two of the last three Fourth of July weekends brought a soaking rain that washed out either morning parades or evening fireworks, which makes this year’s nice holiday weather that much more enjoyable.
Staff writers Dan Skeldon, Waldy Diez and John DeRosier contributed to this report.