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OCEAN CITY, N.J. (CBS) —  The drive late Thursday afternoon from Philadelphia to the Jersey Shore took more than two hours but many people wanted to arrive early to beat the crowds ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

“Oh my gosh. This is my happy place,” expressed Lynn Jekogian, who owns a house near the beach.

Families spent the day taking pictures, walking along the beach, and bike riding on the boardwalk.

Local residents Dave and Libby Liess said the boardwalk will soon get crowded.

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“The crowds will be here but we need the crowds,” she added.

Some are excited to lay on the beach while others anticipate returning to their favorite business.

Kristina Davis is a loyal customer of Manco and Manco Pizza.

“This is definitely the best pizza in the world here. We love it,” said Davis.

“We get to see a lot of loyal customers who come back every day, customers who came back every year so it’s really cool to be a part of something like that,” explained Manco and Manco Manager Jami Hafner.

Philadelphia native Nickolas Jekogian who just turned 101 years old told CBS3 that he couldn’t think of a better place to be.

“We keep on celebrating. We keep on celebrating but it’s beautiful,” he said.

The Friday before Memorial Day is expected to have one of the heaviest travel days of the year.