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Tuesday, April 16, 2024


Bread and Circuses

By James Paul Jr., South Dennis

To the Editor:

The leaders of ancient Rome believed if they provided “bread and circuses” for the people – all would be well. Unlike Troy and Babylon, Rome is vibrant today. So, the good food and entertainment formula had merit. It still does.

As eating and drinking are the county pastimes for middle age and older folks, we have good food and drink in abundance. The bread part we have! As for the “circus” part – the summer season speaks for itself. We come up short in the “year-round” department.

Many Cape May County parents and grandparents lament the fact that many of our young folks go away to college and don’t return “home.” The young people require education, good jobs and a stimulating, year-round environment. Here are three suggestions that would help stem the tide of their exodus.

First and foremost would be a major university locating a college campus in Cape May County. The public and private fight against ruining our shores with wind farms will be ongoing. Only credible data-based or scientific research will win in a court of law. The intuitive knowledge of nature lovers, fishermen, and businesspeople won’t carry the day.

The University of Pennsylvania is right in Philadelphia on the Delaware River. Rutgers and Princeton also have the resources. As New Jersey is almost completely surrounded by water, we need a college that features marine science, hydraulic engineering, river and estuary studies and wetlands. A campus in Lower Township would be ideal – near the harbor and canal. We need to know what’s going on in the ocean, bay and river waters that surround us. And think of the young people such a facility would attract!

Second on my short list would be a 3,500-seat performing arts center – centrally located. A venue for rockers, rappers, comedy, country, orchestras, opera, solo recitals, theater, dance, children’s pageants, jazz, etc. Something for everybody. I’m talking about headline acts – the type of well-known stars that can “pack ’em in!”

As for refreshments at intermission – how about a food truck court? Like the college, this venue could be public or private. The year-round lodging and restaurant owners would love this – drive to Cape May County, spend a night or two, go out to eat, take in the show and drive back on Sunday. Sounds like fun to me! Such a venue could also host benefits for charitable causes.

If Cape May County is to have an optimum, vibrant future we need to invest in the overall “stimulation” factor. We spend tens of millions on miscreants of all types. The car rally in Wildwood that resulted in homicides is a perfect example. We need to invest in good kids.

On the way are a community center in Sea Isle City, an upscale resort in Clermont, an advanced recreation facility at the airport, a mid-town open space project in Ocean City, new restaurant openings, etc. The more “bread and circuses” the better! We need to take a very good place to live and make it even better! Everyone should benefit.

Karen Knight’s recent article about the two schoolboy hockey players serves as a perfect example of my third and final proposal. Ice skating is like riding a bicycle – once you know, you can do it for the rest of your life. Great exercise and great fun! I believe a general purpose rink in the Court House area would clean up! It would attract hundreds of children as well as folks of all ages. Perfect timing as skating runs October to May! Such a rink could eventually spawn a hockey program to be run by the public school system as is common in New England. Boys and girls. The parents of the schoolboys were forced to drive to Atlantic City, as there is no hockey rink here.

These are my thoughts and suggestions. What are yours?


South Dennis

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