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Life hasn’t always been smooth for South Jersey’s smoothie king. But with research, consultation with friends who worked in the food service industry and lots of hard work, Joe Wallash has grown a small, one-person operated stand in the corner of a coffee shop into arguably the area’s top acai bowls and smoothie operation, Playa Bowls. Wallash, 44, took his original operation, which he called “Smoothie Shack,” and grew it to seven thriving Playa Bowl locations with an eighth soon to come. Two locations are in Ocean City.
The truism says “you only get one mom.” In Ocean City, one might add “so you better get more than one present.” That’s how it seemed on Friday as the town was abuzz with Mother’s Day shoppers and folks enjoying family time in anticipation of Sunday’s holiday.
Toward the end of one of the busiest off-seasons in Ocean City history and just ahead of the annual arrival of seasonal visitors, the city’s fox population has been making its presence known. “Denning” season is currently in full swing, wildlife experts said – the time when the reddish bushy-tailed creatures reproduce and make temporary homes around the island – to the amusement of many human residents. “People don’t always associate Ocean City with wildlife,” said Phil Bellucci, Operations and Development Director, Animal Control Officer and Volunteer Coordinator of the Ocean City Humane Society. “Whether they realize it or not, foxes have been around here for a long time and they are an important part of our eco-system,” he added.
Peggy Ferrari explained how she got into the sports memorabilia business with her husband, Frank. “I was sneaking in shoes in a Macy’s bag. He was sneaking in this stuff,” she said, giggling. It looks like memorabilia won out over shoes. There was Peggy on Saturday at the Ocean City Music Pier hawking autographed baseballs, mini-football helmets, pictures, and many other items of interest to collectors at the Sports Memorabilia Show sponsored by the Ocean City Free Public Library and the city. Although scaled down considerably due to COVID-19 restrictions, almost everyone surveyed was happy to be out and about for the event.
Saying goodbye to a friend or loved one can be a journey. And sometimes the navigation of that journey requires a team effort to get through. That was certainly the case of the farewell to Samuel Valenti, a former South Jersey resident who passed away in 2014 at the age of 93, following a gallant eight-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Much of the journey is documented in a wise and touching memoir, “An Eight Year Goodbye,” by Sam’s daughter, Maryanne V. Scott, a part-time Ocean City resident who also has a home in Doylestown, Pa.
Something old is being restored to its former glory at the historic First Presbyterian Church, located at the corner of 7th Street and Wesley Avenue. The 106-year-old steeple, already sliced in half by a lightning bolt in 1925 and subject to the ravages of time and the winds from the Atlantic Ocean, is undergoing a significant restoration project. The hope, First Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor John S. Sheldon says, is for it to be there for perhaps the next 106 years of service to its members, the community, summer visitors or anyone else who stops by.
The waves weren’t huge Saturday afternoon in Ocean City, but they were there, after days and days of bad weather and/or a flat ocean. That seemed to be enough for the people we talked to, anxious to get out of the house and into the sun, sand and surf. Even if the waves weren’t world class, the saying, “when in doubt, paddle out,” seemed to be in full effect. A nearly cloudless day coincided with the first day of spring and the result was surfing heaven on Ocean City beaches.
The Ocean City High School football team now has a new and improved website that matches the football program's high level of play on the field. The old site had a bulky domain name nobody seemed to be able to remember or find. If they did find it, the site was difficult to navigate. Players and parents couldn’t easily find or post information and college recruiters didn’t have an easy way to find a player’s highlight reel or other info. “The goal was to bring the website up to the same prominence as the Red Raiders’ program,” said Ken Wisnefski, CEO of WebiMax, the digital company that created the team's new website. “The coaches and players worked very hard to reach this level of success. They needed a website that would dominate the internet the same way the team dominates on the field.”
It was a very cold weekend in Ocean City. But not too cold for Ocean City. That seemed to be the theme for many folks, despite temperatures hovering around and below freezing much of the time. And the gusty winds making it feel a lot colder than that on Saturday. Sunday started out colder, but temperatures hit 40 by mid-afternoon. Bright sunshine and very few clouds won out over the dreary ice and rain of earlier in the week, and people wanted to get out and take a break from cabin fever.
It’s been a rough time for local athletes, coaches, fans and parents who have been dealing with measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Finally, things have taken a positive turn. On Feb. 12, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that parents and guardians of senior athletes – as well as a limited number of fans – will be permitted to attend winter and spring sports events. The governor’s statement gave hope that New Jersey schools are taking the first tentative steps away from virtual events, games and practices at near-empty venues and toward traditional competitions in stadiums and gyms.