In Point Beach, The Sand And Sun Are Here; Where Are The People?
Despite the warm day, many stayed away - but at Risden's and other beaches, there was hope
A few walked gingery on the Boardwalk's planks, as if they were afraid they were going to break something.
A 7-year-old boy, Sal Campece of Manalapan, ran up to the railing, his mouth agape.
"It's all right!" he said, glaring at the Risden's Beach sand, and the smaller-than-usual gathering of bathers.
But Sal was glad. The beach was still there. "it's all right!" he said, showing his dad, and pointing over the wooden rail.
You'd think Wednesday would be typical beach day. Temperatures were in the 80s. The water was 70 degrees.
Three days after Hurricane Irene hit, however, the Boardwalk, its merchants and its visitors were still a little edgy.
They were happy to have nearly everything intact. But they were sad that so many stayed away, and not able to see that for themselves.
They were anxious to let people know that, in Point Pleasant Beach, summer's not over. They were hopeful that they'd learn that - and quickly.
"We're ready to have people back," said Mike Woods, manager of Risden's Beach, which is just south of Jenkinson's.
On Wednesday, a few of the remnants of Hurricane Irene were still there. Risden's lost five feet of its dune line. Sand was scattered on the boardwalk, causing some bathers to be fearful - for whatever reason - to step on it.
The only part of the boardwalk that was out is at New Jersey Avenue, where part of the wood has caved in.
Otherwise, the rides at Jenkinson's were rolling. The frogs at the frogger game were jumping and the spin-wheel games were spinning away.
Only there was one big difference: Few were stopping by to play, shop and entertain themselves at the Boardwalk's attractions on the mile-long Boardwalk.
"On any other day like today, our parking lot would be full," Woods said. "Now it's only about half-full."
Point Beach's notoriously frustrating on-street parking situaiton wasn't so bad either. Spots could be found within blocks of the beach on Trenton Avenue, as late as noon.
"I didn't think it was gong to be this bad," Woods said as bathers trickled over to the beach badge-checkers, and paid for a day in the sun.
Risden's did have some problems. The southern portion of the beach was still closed, largely because of the heavy wood debris that became too much for the staff to clean up.
At Risden's, the employees spent much of the weekend cleaning up the debris. At the same time, they were hoping that the weather would be good this weekend, and provide a solid finish to what had been a profitable summer.
As they watched more bathers come in, and they watched the sands gradually fill up, they became more hopeful. The ocean line had receded back to its normal place, giving the bathers plenty of room.
And they became even optimistic once they saw the looks on the faces of the bathers - much like that of Sal Campece - who were surprised to see Risden's much the way they saw it before.
"We were wondering if it was going to be all right," said Sal's father, who's also named Sal. ""Looks like it's going to be OK."