The weekend’s sun had disappeared into hazy clouds and gusts of wind whipped Shannon Bradshaw’s hair as she and childhood friend Kysha Washington fought their way from the Atlantic City shore into the ocean Sunday morning. Colder-than-expected waves crashed into them, sending sprays of saltwater into their faces.
They welcomed it. They were home.
“We’re real beach bums,” said Washington, 49, of Egg Harbor Township.
As hundreds of visitors began to pack their beach bags and coolers at the close of a beautiful Fourth of July weekend in Atlantic City, some of the Shore’s lifelong fans headed to the beach for one more dip.
Washington and Bradshaw grew up in Atlantic City, with lifeguards as babysitters all summer long.
Those halcyon days are gone, but Washington makes a point of coming back at least once a week, often with Bradshaw, 50, and her 18-year-old daughter, Cleo, who live in Galloway.
For many, a summer just isn’t complete without a trip to the Shore.
“I always have to go to the beach,” said Beryl Rosoff-Verbit, of Upper Dublin.
She and her husband, Art Verbit, were high school sweethearts who ducked down to the Shore as teenagers.
Decades later, they come when they can and stay with friend Dennis Daly, who lives in Atlantic City.
“The real draw now is hanging with Dennis,” Rosoff-Verbit said.
The self-proclaimed shoobies usually seek out a quiet patch of sand to set up their beach chairs, and on Sunday they found that near Rhode Island Avenue.
Children chased after sand toys that got caught in the wind and it took all three lifeguards on duty to free their boat from waves that wanted to take it to sea.
The breeze was refreshing for Eric and Leroy Woodard, who spent the night before at the Earth Wind & Fire show at Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena.
The Woodards have been fans of the 1970s stars since they were kids, and came to the show with two childhood friends — also brothers.
“Let me tell you, the sound was unbelievable,” said Eric Woodard, 54, of Philadelphia.
It’s the lyrics that strike Leroy through the heart.
“If you listen to the things they’re saying, they still apply now,” said Leroy Woodward, 58, also of Philadelphia.
His favorite is “Keep Your Head to the Sky.”
They planned to head back to Philadelphia later Sunday, once their friends rolled out of bed.
Razak Khan was up bright and early to open up his souvenir shop, Ocean Star, which he’s been running for 20 years.
Business has slowed a little over the last decade, but his favorite part of the job hasn’t changed.
“The fresh air,” he said, gesturing to the tall grasses and sand dunes beyond the boardwalk, all right outside his shop door.
This year’s Fourth of July weekend was as busy as ever, he said. Beach-goers continued to pop in Sunday morning, picking up last-minute souvenirs, but Khan expected the pace to slow a bit, as it usually does at the end of a holiday weekend.
Washington and Bradshaw, though, expected to stay the day — clouds or sun.