Friday, around dinner time, it rained. And then it stopped. Out of nowhere, the crowds retreated and when I went to the Boardwalk, it was weirdly empty, like the calendar had skipped right to the day after Labor Day. I exhaled.

And then the real deluge began. People, so many of them! The weather rallied — uncharacteristically for Memorial Day weekend. This really was a monster beach weekend, no need to pretend, and the beach towns hummed with the shock of, well, a lot of people. Is it too many? Sometimes, it can seem like these barrier island towns are on the verge: too many cars, too many phones, everything on overload, people stressed.

A few restaurants reported they literally ran out of food, while others, like tiny Dim Sum and Then Some in Ventnor resorted to round the clock dim sum production, just to keep up with the volume, said owner Michael Leung. “We didn’t turn off the phones, not for a minute,” DSaTS boasted. At Smitty’s Clam Bar in Somers Point, some people in line showed phones with 100 attempted calls for takeout before they gave up and just drove there.

Things that were beautiful: Sunrises for the early birds, sunsets for the cocktail crowd. A bounty from the farmer’s market so fresh and interesting. The Alchemy Farm mushroom, goat cheese, marinara homemade pizzas, the fresh pasta made creamy with a splash of Misty Meadow Farm’s sheep’s milk, the poke made with the Barnegat tuna, all seemed to just assemble themselves. The moment the land breeze that brought the flies early Sunday switched to an ocean breeze. People in the chilly ocean (mostly under the age of 10)! Surfers in wet suits. Perfectly nice beach chairs left for the taking (why though?).

Things that were not so beautiful: Out-of-control cars and boats, two examples of which ended in tragedy. A missing swimmer in Wildwood. The discovery of a cache of explosives after an 82-year-old Margate man fired across the border into Longport.

Traffic crawling back to Philly. The start of complaint season on Facebook. Impatient customers in restaurants. Stolen bikes. Vomit on the sidewalk outside bars. Questions over beach block parking etiquette (we tackle this below). “We won’t holler back,” wrote Cookie Till, the reigning queen bee restaurateur. “Next time you feel the blood start to rise when you find out you have to order a blueberry pie 3 days in advance or the host that quoted your wait time didn’t count on people camping out a bit longer … breathe.”

I wrote this essay that talked about how the Shore was a tonic for many during the pandemic, but still feels unsettled, you might even say a bit on the rocks. 🥃 Do you agree or disagree?

📮 Let me know what you think by replying to this email, or find me on Twitter or Instagram.

🌞 After the MDW blockbuster, there can be no complaining about weather until at least July.

— Amy S. Rosenberg (🐦 Tweet me at @amysrosenberg. 📷 Follow me on Insta at @amyrosenberg. 📧 Email me at downtheeshore@inquirer.com) Subscribe to this newsletter here.

Shore talk

🥖 Sub shop mystery: People in Ventnor were bereft when the red-painted Sack O’ Subs abruptly shut down “until further notice” after the busy weekend. An employee said franchise owner Fred Spitalnick gave the word without any warning. Is this the end of the purest half turkey, lettuce, light mayo, hot peppers, pickles on the side sub in the land? Mike Klein has the Sack O’ Subs intrigue.

🎰 Casino workers picketing: Contracts at seven of nine Atlantic City casinos expired at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, and members of Unite Here’s Local 54 picketed outside the Tropicana later Wednesday. Spokesperson Bethany Holmes said its 10,000 workers are seeking a “substantial raise.” “This is urgent,” she said. “People can’t pay their rent.” Union to picket outside Tropicana.

🏀 Beach hoops? No longer is the beach a place where a simple Frisbee toss, Kadima game, or even Spikeball is enough. This past weekend, I saw people (not sometimes-spotted-in-Margate Joel Embiid) set up a full-size portable basketball hoop ocean side, plus lacrosse games, and golf putting areas in the sand. You do you guys.

💰 Unaffordable Shore: A lot of chatter about rising costs down the Shore. Bob Stokes of Hatfield is noticing million-dollar houses that sit mostly empty. He hasn’t given up on the Shore but writes: “After 40 years of vacation rentals down the shore, the last 10 years being more and more less affordable, we have come to the realization it is not an average family destination anymore. It’s hard to believe but seems to have turned into a rich man’s destination …”

🙌 Admit it: Even if people don’t always say so, writes Jen A. Miller, New Jersey is great.

What to eat/What to do

🍷 Drink wine with Mary J. Blige: In Philly for the Roots Picnic, Blige will come down the Shore to promote her Sun Goddess wines June 4 at the after-party for Atlantic City’s Mayor Marty Small Sr.’s inaugural gala weekend.

🥙 Dance at a Greek festival: This long-running festival of Greek food, dancing, and rides at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is worth heading offshore to Egg Harbor Township. More info on the 38th Annual Greek Festival is here.

🎣 Check out a state park: New Jersey state parks and beaches, including Island Beach, Cape May Point, and Corson’s Inlet, are free all summer.

🍻 +🎸 Beer and music at Bader: This great festival is outdoors at Bader Field in Atlantic City this weekend. AC Beer Fest info is here.

Shore snapshot

Vocab lesson

⛱️ For this week, here’s a link to a word game we’re calling Shordle. We’ll talk about the answer in a future newsletter. Let’s just say, it’s a can of worms. 😬

Your favorite beach

Ben Saracco of Camden writes in with two great picks:

1. Atlantic City’s beaches near the inlet, between South New Hampshire Avenue and the Ocean Casino.

🍕 Why: “You can get there in under an hour drive from the Ben Franklin Bridge and there is always street parking. Clean sand, plenty of space even on holidays, eclectic and diverse crowd, laissez-faire attitude, easy to grab Tony Boloney slices, public bathrooms at the beach patrol building, surfers to watch, and jetties to fish from. It’s free!”

2. Cape May Point, Coral Avenue.

🐚 Why: “Wild surroundings with beach plums and other native plants and trees that surround you as you walk down the deck over the dunes to the beach. The horseshoe-shaped cove that makes for a nice area to enjoy the typically calm waters. Direct southern views of the ferry traveling back and forth to Delaware in the distance.”

Keep the answers coming, and let us know which town, which street, even which side of the lifeguard stand. You know it matters. 📮 Tell us your favorite beach.

Shore etiquette

We are here to answer your Shore etiquette questions. Ask us anything in the land of yes, it’s always OK to come knocking to let us know you’re down.

One issue that surfaced last weekend was beach block parking.

Question: Is it wrong to take up two spots? (That’s an easy one. Yes, of course, don’t do that.)

❓ More complicated question: Is it OK for beach block homeowners to take up spots on the street when they have driveways, not to mention proximity to the beach itself?

Answer: My thought is it depends. If you have a bunch of visitors who need the space in your driveway, and you can jockey let’s say one car onto the street, that seems OK. But if you’re just leaving your driveway empty and putting all your cars out front, that’s a miss for me.

What do you think? Ask us your questions! Please reply to this email.

Your Shore memory

This week’s memory comes from reader Susan Vogel, who says her memories of Ocean City still elicit “a rush of feelings,” and longing, “for my parents, and for the tides of my life that have long ago receded.” 🌅

“I am 3 years old. Vague memories of riding the light blue T-Bird around the track at Playland commingle with the sweet and salty smell of Shriver’s at 9th and Boardwalk, sticky buns at Horsey’s and the taste of freshly squeezed orange juice at Litterer’s in the middle of our morning bike ride. The shore was magical. Especially at twilight when we walked the boards. Every so often the PA system blared the name of a missing child, imploring the parents to meet at the Music Pier. I felt terrified and safe at the same time, while holding hands with my mother and father.”

📮 Send me your Shore memory in 200 words for a chance to be featured.

Miss last week’s newsletter? Here’s the inaugural Down the Shore.

See you at the beach!