By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
SEA ISLE CITY – If you need a good book for some light reading on the beach, you’re in luck.
If you need directions to Portugal, Moscow and some other far-flung places, you’re covered.
Or if you simply need a laugh to lift your spirits for the day, don’t fret.
For beachgoers in Sea Isle City, the fun begins even before they step onto the sand. Some of the entranceways leading to the beaches provide an amusing or quaint experience through their quirky and comical novelties.
“It’s charming. It adds to people’s enjoyment on the beaches. It shows what a nice community we have,” Sea Isle spokeswoman Katherine Custer said of the decorative displays.
In Townsends Inlet in the south end of town, for instance, some of the pathways to the beach have book boxes that allow people to grab a hardback or paperback for their reading pleasure.
The books are free. The books for these miniature libraries are tucked inside display boxes that resemble tiny, green houses. People are encouraged to leave some books, as well as take some, while traveling to and from the beaches.
“I think it’s cute,” beachgoer Julie Lamon, 21, a vacationer from Boothwyn, Pa., said of the book box at the 87th Street beach.
Bianca Brasslett, 20, of Strathmere, took a look at some of the books and handed one to Lamon, who smiled.
“I thought we had to leave a book in order to take one,” Brasslett said, before she was assured she was under no such obligation.
“I think this is a really neat idea,” she added.
While miniature libraries can prompt a smile or two, a full-throated laugh is virtually guaranteed once beachgoers get a glimpse of the fake directional signs that decorate the entrance to the pathway at 90th Street.
Mounted on a pole, the stylish metal signs point the way – supposedly – to Paradise Valley, Portugal, Fairbanks, Alaska, and Moscow. Of those four, Paradise Valley is the closest to Sea Isle, a mere 2,096 miles away, according to the sign. Moscow is the farthest away, a trek of 4,782 miles.
Beachgoer Nicole Stowe pointed out the signs to her sons, Jase, 7, and Bryce, 5. Although the boys may not have realized it at the time, they were getting a quick geography lesson.
When asked if he had ever heard of any of the places on the signs, Jase simply shook his head, shrugged his shoulders and replied, “No.”
The pathway at 90th Street also is decorated with a brick walkway and brick wall and colorful flowers.
Custer, the city’s spokeswoman, said she believes the adjacent property owner created and maintains the decorative entranceway at 90th Street.
There are a few other beach pathways in the south end of town that feature elaborate decorations and floral displays. They, too, were done by private homeowners.
“Some neighboring property owners plant the flowers,” Custer said.
At the end of Louise Drive, where 61st Street meets Pleasure Avenue, beachgoers are greeted by an ornate brick wall and columns, flowers and greenery. The pathway gives the impression that it is the entrance to an estate, not the beach.