OCEAN CITY, N.J. (CBS) — The unofficial start to the summer season means a Memorial Day influx of thousands to Jersey Shore towns.
Life changes when the Memorial Day crowds arrive, but Ocean City resident Nicole Eagan says while there are inconveniences, it’s for the best.
“I don’t mind, she said. “It brings a lot of money into Ocean City, but it does get hard to come in and out if you’re a local. Prices go up, of course. But those are just minor challenges.”
Fellow year-round resident Jeanine Dixon is eager to share her hometown with the shoobies.
“The ocean, the people, the food, the hospitality, she said. “It’s exciting. there’s always something going on on the boardwalk.”
The Chamber of Commerce here expects a strong season, based on beach tag sales and advance rentals.
But Ocean City wasn’t the only town expecting big crowds.
Wildwood kicked off the day by unlocking the beach and hosting their annual International Kite Festival.
And what’s more iconic than the tramcar, right?
It’s probably one of the most iconic sounds you’ll hear on the Wildwood boardwalk.
The sightseer’s tramcar made its debut in 1949. By 1971, Wildwood local Floss Stingel lent her voice to the famous recording to clear the tram car’s path.
And if you’ve been to Wildwood anytime between 1992 and today, you may have seen Gigi behind the wheel.
If the tram is just a little to slow for you, thrill-seekers can strap themselves in to a just revamped roller coaster.
It’s called the Great Nor’easter on Surfside Pier.
It’s been around for awhile but it has undergone a $5 million makeover.
Nearly 2,200 feet of twisted steel take riders high up for a great view of the shore line–if you have your eyes open.
And then there’s the 95-foot drop for all you adrenaline junkies.
The birth of rock n’ roll changed American music and culture forever and Wildwood played an instrumental role.
For the locals who grew up with rock n’ roll here, it was all about the Doo Wop sound.
“Count Basie was my across the street neighbor. Lionel Hampton was down on the corner. Sarah Vaughn was up the street. Dinah Washington was up the street. Billie Holliday was around the corner. These were folks that I saw on stage and also saw them off stage,” said William G. Cottman.
Wildwood boomed in the 1950s as more people bought cars. And construction of the Garden State Parkway was completed–bringing tourists to town, and entertainers to the beach to keep them dancing.
“Music came to us because we were a hot spot in the summertime, the entertainers came here and performed, and many of them started their career here,” said Chuck Schumann, with the Doo Wop Preservation League.
Wildwood hotels developed Doo Wop architecture, borrowing style from pop culture and flashy cars. Evenings glowed in the buzz of neon light.
“It’s not just about the music, it’s about the character of the resort. It’s a family, fun destination. Wildwood is all about fun,” said Dan Macelravey, president of the Doo Wop Preservation League.
But music played a big part.
Just ask Dick Richards, drummer for Bill Haley and the Comets, a band who helped put Wildwood on the map with their number-one hit, “Rock Around The clock”.
“All of a sudden this thing, it didn’t hit right away ya know? And they put it in the movie ‘Black Board Jungle’ and, wooooo. I mean, a different ballgame,” said Richards.
“The guy is unbelievable. You gotta see him on a set of drums. He’s 93-years-old and when he gets on the drums he’s 21,” said Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano.