Summer Is Over at the Shore. Dogs on the Beach, Blinking Lights Are the Sad Reminders

Lori M. Nichols | NJ Advance Media for NJ.comChris Franklin | For NJ.comAnother summer has come and goneat the Jersey Shore. What was once a daily, ocean adjacent block party filled with people has become a less bustling, less congested place, which could be good or bad, depending on where you live.We all know how this guy feels. While we have had a couple of nice weekends of warm weather in late September which will trickle into early October, we still have to face the fact summer inevitably is over and we have to wait until 2019 to meet summer once again.Don't believe me Here are a few things to prove it is happening.Lori M. Nichols | NJ Advance Media for NJ.comEmpty BeachsRemember all of the conversations about "beach spreading"and how everyone who was visiting the beach had to be mindful of hampering the space available for fellow beachgoers. Well, there are fewer people at the beach these days. It does not mean you can have an Oktoberfest-style tent that takes up a block, although that would be pretty cool.Red lights What red lightsDuring the summer season, many towns operate their traffic signals normally by cycling through the traditional red, yellow and green. When the summer is over, and shore town populations decline, some towns switch on the blinking yellow lights on roads that were heavily congested from late May to early September. It makes it a lot faster getting around.Delaney Dryfoos For The Star-LEmpty ParkingIt's a sign that business is good at the shore when the parking lots are filled near the beach access points. While it isgreat for the economy, it can be a pain at times walking six blocks or more to the beach with a beach chair, beach umbrella, beverage cooler, and possibly children. We know this isn't the same as hearing the stories of walking uphill, against the wind, barefoot that some have heard from elders, but it sure feels like it.Most of those spaces are empty now, so no worries about getting a good spot near your favorite restaurant or right by the boardwalk.The meters turn offIn many towns, parking was at a premium all summer long and you'd have to shell out quarters or fork over a $10 or more to reserve your spot for the day. Now towns are turning off, or in some cases putting bags over, their meters.Lori M. Nichols | NJ Advance Media for NJ.comThe dogs have their day againManytowns place restrictions on allowing dogs to come on the beach during the summer. Now that that time has passed, the restrictions are lifted, and the four-legged companions are once again allowed on the beach.It's just quieterDid you ever stroll down the boardwalk on a Tuesday summer night and the sound of a guitarist doing their rendition of Toto's "Africa," or a violinist channeling their inner Shakira with "Hips Don't Lie," or hear "Here comes the Sun," like in this video from three years ago. Now, there is only a chorus of crashing waves and the screeches of beach vultures otherwise known as seagulls.Ornitz, ZachBoardwalk is winding down to just weekendsYou can't bet your significant other to a game of miniature golf on a Tuesday during, lose the bet and have to hear from August to Memorial Day Weekend how much of better of a miniature golfer she is than you (even if deep down you know it is true). The sounds of the bells going off from someone from getting a high score in Skeeball are not as prevalentand the water parks are closed or about to close.File photoWhere'd the traffic goWhen driving to and from the shore, Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons become the bane of your existence. The gridlock on shore-connecting roads such as the Garden State Parkway, the Atlantic City Expressway and, even that shortcut that you think is a secret, but 2,000 other people think it's a secret as well, delays enjoyment of the shore towns.But now that it's over, it sure makes getting to and from work on Fridays easier.Chris Franklin | For NJ.comBikes on the boardwalk at any timeThis past spring, after finishing an assignment, I decided to buy some fudge from a nearby store, and a bunch of kids on bicycles rode by on the boardwalk. I asked the clerk if there was a school in-service day because it was not a federal holiday. The clerk responded by saying it was the nearby high school's gym class. The fact that school children will be back on the bicycles for their gym class is another sign summer is in the rearview mirror.Chris Franklin | For NJ.comThe other 4-letter s-curse word It starts with the weather getting a little cooler at night. Then, the time the sun sets becomes earlier and earlier. Then weather forecasters begin running teasers on winter snowfall predictions, and you remember how much snow (that four letter word) can fall during a nor'easter. It happens so fast, and it causes us to long for summer to return to the Jersey Shore. How many more days is it until the 2019 summer season beginStrathmere beachBumper DeJesus | NJ Advance Media for NJ.comRelated StoriesBye bye, bennies. 9 reasons September is the best time to go to the Jersey ShoreHere's how much money Shore towns made selling you beach badges in 2017Meet 14 creatures you might encounter along N.J. beaches (and 18 more deeper in the sea)Chris Franklin can be reached ow him on on Facebook.Have a tipTell us.nj.com/tips

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Beware of Flying Beach Umbrellas
You've probably seen this sign at the beach at least once: Shark sighting, enter water at your own risk. An eye-grabber, that one.But you never see this: Watch out for flying beach umbrellas.Let's examine the comparative dangers. There were 32 shark attacks in the U.S. last year (one fatality), and the global average is about 84 annually. Yet there have been 2,800 Americans treated in hospital emergency rooms for beach umbrella injuries between 2010 and 2018, which is more than 300 per year. That includes that poor woman last July in Seaside Heights, where an wind-blown umbrella drove right through her ankle, requiring fire crews to use a bolt cutter to remove it. This can no longer be considered a freak occurrence. These are aerodynamic harpoons, with sharp aluminum or wooden spikes, and once airborne, they are dangerous projectiles. There was even a fatality in Virginia Beach in 2016, when a woman was impaled in the chest.So we applaud Sen. Robert Menendez for going to the beach Monday.Ordinarily, it would be a nice diversion for someone who has spent the summer trying to stop the bloodshed in Yemen, restore some humanity to our immigration laws, and keep NATO from splintering, but this was a business trip: Menendez held a news conference in Manasquan to call for new regulations pertaining to beach umbrellas, which is an alarm bell worth ringing.He is doing it the smart way. Menendez is not pushing legislation - Mitch McConnell probably would dismiss it anyway, as a Democratic War on Wind. He is calling on the appropriate federal agency to be more aggressive in getting the word out and rethinking the technology.Because the Senator is right: "Something is wrong when any consumer product can take off and kill someone," Menendez said. "We need awareness, we need guidance and we need the Consumer Product Safety Commission to do its job."When you consider the number of injuries and deaths caused by other products that has inspired the CPSC to act, this is not an unreasonable suggestion. As Menendez pointed out, the CPSC has launched countless public safety campaigns that have proved successful in changing behaviors, notably the 2015 "Anchor It!" initiative to warn of the dangers of furniture tip-overs, and the 2017 campaign that alerted the public of how fidget spinners could be choking hazards. The Commission has conducted dozens of studies on sports and recreation products alone. In a letter to the CPSC in May - co-signed by Sen. Cory Booker, and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia - Menendez urged it to direct its engineering staff to explore "the efficacy of certain design or technical changes" to the standard umbrella that would improve safety and mitigate injury. Many experts, including those connected to retailers and safety groups, suggest some type of weighted anchoring system. That makes sense.The CPSC told us that "We are very much aware of the issue and continue to look at options," and encourages consumers to use proper anchoring techniques, which can be found in dozens of YouTube videos.It's a start, but this could use a push from consumers, by sending a polite note right here, to the CPSC's web page. Because a gust of wind shouldn't turn a day at the beach into a trip to the ER.
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