By David Madden
WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — Welcome to the Memorial Day weekend — when hundreds of thousands of winter weary people head down the shore to begin celebrating summer a few weeks early. The party in Wildwood kicked off with a artistic salute to a South Philadelphia boy of Bandstand who spent his summers down the shore.
Bobby Rydell is 72 now — but he still has that youthful spark in his heart.
“Remember the Starlight Ballroom? I mean, when I was a kid — when we were all kids — you know everything was so pure and so simple back then,” Rydell said. “It really didn’t take much to make us happy.”
And he remembered his childhood summers at gandmom’s Wildwood home on Montgomery Avenue.
“Growing up in South Philadelphia,” Rydell said, “when you said you were going down to the shore for summer vacation, the shore was Wildwood, New Jersey.”
His eyes lit up as city officials unveiled a two story high mural along the boardwalk depicting him in his teen idol years when “Wildwood Days” was a top 10 hit across the nation.
It’s the first of several planned around town to mark the Golden Days of Rock and Roll.
Why did Rydell go first? Well, that tune helped put this city on the map. So much so, it’s now Wildwood’s official song.
Nearly two years out from a liver and kidney transplant that saved his life, Rydell asked city officials for one other thing as he left — a muscle shirt from the Wildwood Beach Patrol, along with a whistle. He got both.