Many of us are asking the same question: Where did summer go?
And as nice as the Boardwalk can be for a walk, jog or bike ride all year long, there is nothing like it during the summer months. It seems Memorial Day weekend, the official start of our summer season in A.C., was only a few weeks ago. Then, with at least five early heat waves, I guess we thought summer 2012 would somehow be extended, but recent cooler temperatures have informed us that indeed, fall is really around the corner.
After being away for a couple of weeks, I had to make a trip to our Boardwalk, for inevitably, this time of year brings a hint of sadness to those of us who love all things summer.
Yes, things had slowed down a bit as I had expected, but the sights and sounds that make the Boardwalk a sensual treat remained. First, the greasy smell of pizza cheese and its spices caught my nose.
Next, it was the tilted head of a child trying to catch her vanilla ice cream as it slid down the sides of a brown waffle cone.
Country western music caught my ears by surprise before I could cross the Boardwalk to the beach so I decided to take my walk first.
Walking our historic boards has become quite an art. You have to know when, where and how to navigate them. If you want peace and quiet, walk to either end or better yet, walk along the shore with the soothing sound of waves at your back. Definitely stay away from the section where Bally’s, the Pier Shops and the beer garden intersect. Sometimes, country music tunes, R&B classics and Hard Rock clash in the center of this busy area.
Party animals don’t seem to care about the clash of music genres, but some of us feel a kind of sensory overload. This is a great place to people- watch. I even saw a toddler stop in his tracks and begin bouncing to the music while his young parents stared, totally amused.
Walking in either direction away from Bally’s, you can find patches of quiet and patches of noise/music between sections of food, souvenir and clothing shops.
Heading downtown, there are still a few spots where you can peep a view of the ocean between dunes. As you approach Ventnor, there are a lot of memorial benches facing the ocean. They’re dedicated to deceased loved-ones who loved A.C. and some pavilions if you prefer to sit in the shade.
Heading uptown, between Bally’s and Resorts, there are plenty of benches, most facing the promenade for some good people-watching, where I was reminded of my grandmother saying, “There’s a lid for every pot,” as I watched the variety of couples lovingly engaged on our Boardwalk.
You’ll find the tallest women with the shortest men, Lady Godiva with Sesame Street’s Mister Rogers, every ethnic match-up imaginable and even the skinniest men with the fattest women. If you don’t believe America really has an obesity epidemic, visit our Boardwalk. It even makes the most grotesquely obese get out and walk, though many people have resorted to wheelchairs or rolling chairs.
Rolling chairs begin to fill up with teeny weeny (and not-so-teeny) young women whose feet are sore, because it seems no one told them not to wear 5-inch spiked heels on our Boardwalk as they head to the clubs at dark in what appears to be the same teeny weeny black dress. Never too far from them are the crowds of young men, presumably heading to those same clubs.
By midnight, older couples, families, pregnant moms and seniors who enjoyed the Boardwalk hours before have all but disappeared into their casino-hotels and left the boards to the party-goers until the sun comes up again.
Music overflows from the Atlantic Club and Trump Taj Mahal, but it’s not very loud at these spots. A little after either of these, though, you can find more quiet places to view the ocean if that‘s what you want.
You can also walk, jog or bike with less obstruction from crowds of pedestrians, especially if you go early in the morning. After the Taj Mahal and pass Revel, much of the storm ravaged Boardwalk has been repaired.
At the end of the summer season, people still fill the Boardwalk on weekday afternoons, enjoying the sunny but cool days of September.
I think this has been the best summer for Atlantic City since I returned in 2008. With so many great things to do and see, let’s hope it is the beginning of an even greater future for our city.
Even with the wide variety of concerts and other entertainment, however, nothing will ever compare to simply taking a stroll on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City.
Turiya S.A. Raheem was born and raised in Atlantic City. Currently an English teacher at Atlantic Cape Community College, she loves to describe her neighborhood as “the other Atlantic City,” because it was not the casino-resort mecca most people know today. It was a place with a “cozy, down-home feeling” as she describes in her 2010 book, Growing Up in the Other Atlantic City: Wash’s and the Northside.
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