For people like myself who unfortunately don’t live near the coast, the offshore media has a way of (inadvertently?) trying to get us to forget about summertime almost as soon as the “off season” is on (unless of course, there’s a big storm to talk about). I am not easily persuaded.
Throughout the last few weeks, all the hype I’ve heard seems to be geared toward trying to convince me how great the fall season is. A lady being interviewed on the radio exclaims, “I love the crisp fall air.” “We always take our family to pick out a pumpkin,” another person remarks. “We enjoy watching the leaves change colors.” My reaction is: seriously? In my book, except for Thanksgiving and a possible parade, fall has almost no up side. To me, it only signals one thing: summer is as far away as it’s going to get. Philly’s Hall and Oates summed it up in 1972 when they sang, “I think I feel my back up against the wall… I’m gonna spend another Fall in Philadelphia.” It’s depressing to say the least.
So here we are. Left with gray skies, more traffic, leaves to rake, snow to move. I fail to see why anyone would actually look forward to putting on more clothes just to go outside, and once you’re out there, enduring the cold temperatures, rain, sleet, snow, ice and all the other nonsense that comes with fall and winter. I admit that I have never liked the cold, I’m allergic to leaves and have no desire to ski. Memories of August nights on the boardwalk are still fresh in my mind. The screams of thrill seekers on the rides. The thump-thump-thump of the whole place on a Saturday night. That unmistakeable aroma of the popcorn and cotton candy blending with the smell of the boardwalk wood itself. Watch-watch-watching the tram car please. The landscape has changed over the years, but overall, there’s the feeling of an old friend that’s always there just the way you remember.
So rather than waiting for next spring to finally get here, I ventured down last week. The boardwalk has a calming, open feel to it this time of year. There’s room to walk. Bikes are allowed all day. Half of the shops are closed for the season, but many of those that are open are offering end-of-the-summer discounts. Those great parking spots you envied all summer are available! You feel more like a local resident than a tourist. And luckily, the day I was there, there was no “crisp fall air.”
The Halloween season is quickly approaching, and six weekend nights next month will mark Mariner’s Landing’s first-ever transformation into an October destination-in-the-dark. As a life-long fan of spooky attractions who vividly remembers walking through South Jersey’s legendary haunted landmarks of the past – Brigantine Castle, the Haunted House on Morey’s Pier and Dracula’s Castle – I’m going to try to convince my teenage daughter to come with me to Wildwood and experience the Ghost Ship, mazes and other delights that Terror on the Boardwalk has in store. Finally, something more frightening than the cost of gas to actually drive down there. Maybe there’s a reason to look forward to fall after all…