In every romantic relationship, there are deal breakers. Perhaps you can’t be with someone who chews with their mouth open or binge watches reality TV. Or maybe you swipe left if the object of your affection takes too many selfies or hates your favorite movie. For pastoral associate Joe Tatta, the most egregious offense imaginable when he was a bachelor — and the thing that would have torpedoed any chance at romance — was something a little less typical. Any partner of Joe’s was going to need to love Wildwood.
“It was a prerequisite,” he says.
For 38 of his 41 years on this planet, Joe has been vacationing in Wildwood. As a child, when he visited with his sister and their parents, he experienced his first roller coaster here. Then, when he got a little bit older, he continued the tradition with friends.
So, when Joe began dating a woman named Christina he’d met through his work at their church in Wallingford, Connecticut, he naturally brought her to his favorite Jersey Shore town. And he hoped very much she would embrace it in the same way.
“He didn’t tell me about this test,” Christina laughs. “Luckily, I passed.”
Now, the couple has been happily married for 12 years, and for the last decade of their marriage, they’ve been staying every summer at the Pan American hotel. Every other year, they come with a large group of friends — as many as 13 at one time. And, every other year, they travel by themselves for a relaxing getaway.
“We love to go to Disney World, and we always say: This feels like a smaller Disney,” Christina says. “You know at that resort, the hotels are going to be nice and clean and you can expect a certain level of service. And the Morey’s properties are like that, too. You know you’re going to experience top-notch service, and everything will be clean and well run.”
Plus, she adds, the vibe is just really fun.
“We’ve often watched summer evening storms roll in over the ocean from our balcony,” Christina says. “One year, there was a microburst so bad, the power on the island went out. All the guests in the hotel gathered in the lobby with snacks and board games, which we all shared.”
When the couple isn’t enjoying their hotel, they can be found strolling Wildwood’s beach at sunrise, when the sand is still freshly raked and you can’t help but scan the horizon for dolphins. Then, they’ll hit up a water park or grab a bite to eat at their favorite boardwalk restaurant, Joe’s Fish Co. In the evening, they’ll return to their room at the Pan Am for a restful night’s sleep.
It’s a routine, they say, they can easily see themselves maintaining through their next 10 years of marriage. And the 10 after that.
“This,” Joe says, “is a home away from home.”