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Shore rocks early as big weekend rolls in

Sunshine, music help visitors get in the swim.

Imported palm trees and lots of sun and sand greet visitors to Point Pleasant Beach at the start of the Memorial Day weekend. (Mel Evans / Associated Press)
Imported palm trees and lots of sun and sand greet visitors to Point Pleasant Beach at the start of the Memorial Day weekend. (Mel Evans / Associated Press)Read more

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. - Warm sunshine, hot rock-and-roll, and cold beer got the holiday weekend started in New Jersey - all before 8 a.m.

By the time the day was over, a daredevil had ridden a motorcycle over the Atlantic City Boardwalk to the third floor of a casino, business people had marched into the surf clutching briefcases in Ocean City, and other more traditional rituals - such as sitting in traffic, firing up the barbecue, and hitting the beach - had unfolded.

In Point Pleasant Beach, which hosts a free big-name rock concert on the boardwalk on the Friday of every Memorial Day weekend, the alcohol started flowing shortly after sunup. Daniel "Dan From Australia" Greenwood was with a group of friends from Point Pleasant celebrating on the sand outside Jenkinson's as the rock band 3 Doors Down played inside the bar, the music wafting outside.

"From here to Australia, I've been from here to there: They've got great summers there, but nobody does it like the Jersey Shore," he said. "We're just a different breed."

A breed that included a guy on the boardwalk who was having amazing success getting women he didn't know to pose for photos with his arm around them just by telling them they looked "just like that chick from Jerseylicious."

And the group of revelers in the club who had 12 Miller Lite cans arranged on the bar in front of them like an expanded array of bowling pins.

Work - and in some cases, school - was ditched, sand chairs were set up, bathing suits ruled, and beer and bloody Marys supplanted coffee and bagels for breakfast.

"It's a great way to start summer," said Jodee Griffith of Point Pleasant. "To have this right here and be able to walk to it is fantastic, having it right in your backyard.

Steve Capoano of Point Pleasant, who bears more than a passing resemblance to reality-show star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, said he and his friends were at the Jersey Shore years before the TV impostors.

"We were the real Jersey Shore long before the show," he said, holding a cold beer can under one of the palm trees that are imported and jammed into the sand here each summer. "Snooki and The Situation got nothing on us!"

An overturned boat, the Atlantic Traveler, capsized in the Manasquan Inlet more than two weeks ago, but it still has not been salvaged. Currents and winds nudged it out of the heavily traveled boating lane, and it now sits just south of the inlet on a stretch of beach where lifeguards usually don't let swimmers venture anyway.

Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said it was unclear whether any fuel was inside the overturned boat, or whether most or all of it had already leaked out.

The U.S. Coast Guard said a private salvage team had been expected to retrieve the wrecked boat more than a week ago. But crews still had not arrived at the site, and it was unclear when a salvage operation might begin.

Elsewhere along the Shore, towns symbolically "unlocked" the ocean. Business people marched into the surf in Ocean City holding briefcases, and the nation's first casino outside Nevada had its grand reopening in Atlantic City. Resorts Casino Hotel unveiled its Roaring '20s theme.

Gamblers at Bally's Atlantic City, cashed in on the heat. When the temperature exceeds 72 degrees, the first 1,000 people who insert their players club card into a slot machine after the "official" temperature is read at 3 p.m. will win $1 in free slot play for every degree above 72, with a minimum of $5 per person guaranteed.