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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Off-season Eyes

Eric Conklin - Use this One

By Eric Conklin

Taylor Henry, my friend and Herald colleague, celebrated her 25th birthday Jan. 10. I joined her and our friends at Mulligan’s, in Wildwood, for a night of music bingo and drinks.
Originally, I couldn’t head home from work, as it’s 40 minutes north. I had to stay preoccupied because I would be at the party too early.
“Any way we could meet after I’m done work?” I asked Taylor. “I’m trying to kill time.”
“I won’t be in Wildwood until closer to 8 p.m., sorry,” she replied. Being mostly a stranger to Wildwood, I chose to visit the place I know best, the boardwalk.
I parked on Roberts Avenue, walked up to The Original Fudge Kitchen, and at first, I heard only the ocean in the chilled January air. For the first time in several years, I was alone on a boardwalk.
I wasn’t exposed to screaming kids, music, the rush of rides and announcements over the speakers, but instead, as I continued my walk, I heard the sound of clinking metal from closed shop signs and doors. Instead of announcements, the speakers made only light crackle sounds, with no words.
My favorite encounter was the giant Coca-Cola sign. Instead of its bright lights, what mesmerized me was the clicking noise each lightbulb made when they flickered on and off. With closed eyes, the noise resembled sleet hitting the ground during a winter storm.
As my walk continued, I heard the sound of the dormant amusement rides, which were begging to be rejuvenated with their groaning sounds as the wind passed by. I walked midway onto the beach, briefly capturing the sound of a vacant seaside resort. Finally, the fun was over, as three kids playing in an open arcade ended the fun.
A boardwalk, regarded as one of the biggest summer assets our area has, provided me with an adventure when I least expected it. I find my walk to be reassurance of a locals’ belief that the Jersey Shore truly is never dormant.
The off-season allows boardwalk visitors and locals to experience the Jersey Shore through a different perspective, if they’re visiting while thinking abstractly. With that mindset, anyone can enjoy a more intimate time on any boardwalk. Frankly, it’s alive when it’s least expected to be.
The Jersey Shore isn’t the only place to obtain an experience like this. Perhaps, if you’re someone not surrounded by water, you can experience an adventure like mine on your street or at a favorite park. Maybe, you don’t have to leave your home for such an experience.
Hurry, as Mother Nature says, “This offer ends soon.”
ED. NOTE: The author is the editorial assistant at the Cape May County Herald. To contact Conklin, email econklin@cmcherald.com.

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