How does the beach in September sound? Well to businesses at popular tri-state destinations, it sounds like an opportunity to recoup some losses.
After summer got off to a late start because of the pandemic, some Jersey Shore and Long Island towns are looking to extend the season past Labor Day this year to give those businesses that have been hurting a much needed boost.
Extending the beach season makes a lot of sense to the mayor of Seaside Heights, where some small businesses have said that they are just now, in the final week of August, hitting their stride.
U.S. & World
"We used to call this 'post' season. This year it is the norm," said Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz.
And with demand for rental houses still quite strong, some are asking "Why not?" to the idea of an endless summer.
"The more we extend the season, the better the chance to get back to where we should be," said Joseph Bolcado, an arcade manager at the Jersey Shore hotspot. After a devastating start to the summer, businesses on the famed Seaside Heights boardwalk are in a fight just to break even this year. And if there is any silver lining to the pandemic, it that back to school time doesn't necessarily mean it has to be goodbye to the beach, thanks to remote learning.
"They want to see the sun, they want that feeling things are back to normal, even though they are not," said Vaz. He said that with so many children doing remote learning in September and October, lots of families might keep coming to the beach well after Labor Day — even on school days.
"We're looking at opening up all week for the whole month of October," Vaz said.
There are some logistics still to figure out, however. The town would have to figure out how many life guards they would need to extend, and how many would be able to stay for the additional weeks. And there is a cost of keeping the added seasonal police on hand for another two months.
The biggest risk may be something totally out of the town's control. Even if they are able to retain the necessary staffing, the weather may simply not hold. In that event, there are extra life guards and police getting paid without much benefit to businesses.
But some slightly chillier weather didn't seem to discourage everyone from wanting to be at the shore.
"As a grad student doing a lot online, I have more time right now. I love to come down to the beach, even if it's a little chilly," said Katherine Spernyak.
"Our life is upside down. Being able to get outside even into October, it's a win-win for everyone," said fellow grad student Robert Vani.
Vaz said that they are still working on some of the details, on that they'll decide on a plan the first couple days of September.
Seaside Heights isn't the only tri-state shore time thinking of extending beah season, as the thought of a few more nice weekends in September or even October is a tempting though for many business owners and town officials.
There are also those who say an extension goes beyond money and the economy. With millions of tri-state residents now working from home, beaches and coastal towns have become vital escapes from the four walls of home offices. Squeezing another month out of surf, sand and waves could help tide many over to better days ahead — or at least through the winter months.
Jean Shatiroff and her family of six have been staying in Southampton on Long Island, and all of them decided to stay for at least a little while longer — with no plans of going back to their Manhattan home for the time being.
"The safest place to be, where we could all be together, is in Southampton," she said.
Long Island tourism officials have said many city residents are now planning to stay in the Hamptons full-time, although none could estimate just how many, simply saying they "expect a large number of people."
Whatever the number may be, Hamptons businesses hope the added customers will help improve their bottom line during this very difficult year. The owner of a 29-room hotel in the town said that unlike in normal times, he won't be shutting down in mid-October — instead saying that customers are booking rooms well into the fall.
"They come here to forget their problems and live in an oasis," the hotel owner said.
The big question that remains is if schools, hospitals and roads in the Hamptons can handle a large influx of people beyond the normal summer season. A smaller school district in Sag Harbor said they will be welcoming dozens of new students, and doing all they can to accommodate those students needs.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said he believes the shift in population can work.
"We want you to stay and spend those dollars and contribute to our economy," Bellone said.