By Matt Petrillo

WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — The unofficial start to the summer is here in the time of COVID-19. While restrictions have eased at the Jersey Shore, people flocked to the beaches and boardwalks for the Memorial Day weekend.

There was a steady stream of people strolling along the boardwalk in Wildwood on Sunday, many wearing face masks and some trying to enjoy a cool summer treat.

“It’s a little hard to eat through your mask, but we can make do,” Rick Watson, of Hammonton, said.

Pandemic or not, a trip down the shore is a tradition for a lot of families. But at Hot Spot Pizza, business this holiday weekend is down as much as 90%.

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“Last year, we were up ’til 3 in the morning,” Hot Spot Pizza owner Mike Kelly said. “We were closed by 10 this year.”

Other places like Eleanor’s Gifts were roped off. People could only look and buy from the outside to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Some businesses didn’t bother to open at all during what’s supposed to be the unofficial start to summer.

But the lights are on at the Ferris Wheel at Morey’s Pier, even though it hasn’t had any riders for months. Still, the pier plans to reopen with restrictions as soon as the governor’s office gives it the green light.

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Meanwhile, at the Doo-Wop Drive-In in Wildwood Crest, summer is not canceled. In fact, it took orders for the first time ever on Friday.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” owner Jason Kramer said.

The owner of this 50s-style restaurant is thankful that customers are allowed to at least order takeout. He hopes to soon open his outside theater one day when crowds can come together again on the other side of the pandemic.

“Even if it wasn’t here, I don’t know if it would have been that great because the weather didn’t cooperate,” Kramer said. “And that had a big part of it.”


The Wildwood Crest mayor expects more foot traffic after hotels in Cape May County are allowed to fully open in June.

“I think it’s all coming, but everyone just needs to be patient, realize what we’re trying to accomplish,” Mayor Don Cabrera said.

The coronavirus is still on the minds of many down the shore, but it’s not stopping kids from playing football on the beach, others from scarfing down a summer treat with family on the boardwalk. Their annual tradition still going strong.