By TIM KELLY
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, sometimes at their own peril.
Case in point: Dan Bell. Bell, a 75-year-old resident of the Gardens section and a daily bike rider, had set out on his normal sojourn around 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, when he discovered it wasn’t really normal at all.
“I come down (Park Place) to the Boardwalk and make a right, but not this time,” Bell said.
The problem was deceptively clear streets. Bell built up his speed to make it up the Boardwalk ramp when he made the grim discovery. He was careening over a clear sheet of ice and snow.
“You don’t want to break a bone, especially at my age,” Bell noted.
Bell was already going too fast to hit the brakes and he feared he was also going too fast to make the turn onto what was an equally snowy and icy Boardwalk surface.
Experience and good riding technique saved the day.
Bell stopped pedaling and let the gravity of the Park Place ramp slow him down, and he was able to regain control of the bike as he made the turn.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” Bell said sheepishly. “This is my normal route and the street was clear. I didn’t think there was reason to slow down.”
Bell said he also misjudged the temperature, dismounting the bike and walking it back down the ramp. He said he would probably return after he changed into his snow boots.
“It’s a beautiful day, it’s just cold,” he said. “It should warm up soon.”
He was right.
Within the next hour, the mercury rose to approximately 33, warm enough to melt the ice and much of the snow.
By Sunday it was virtually all gone.
The Ocean City Nor’easters soccer team was holding a tryout Saturday at Carey Field, where Todd Reitzel, of Galloway, was watching his son, Michael, try out for the squad.
“Yes, it’s cold, but it doesn’t bother my son,” said Reitzel, who only grinned when asked about his own reaction to the frosty blast. “It’s cold but the sun is out.”
Reitzel said he was born and raised in Somers Point so he is used to cold winters.
“I’m used to being here a lot when the weather is better. It’s going to be great to enjoy everything Ocean City has to offer once again, especially this year,” he said, referencing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s that darn Punxsutawney Phil,” lamented an Upper Township woman who declined a photo and to give her name for this story. “We were having such a great, mild winter. He saw his shadow and said six more weeks of winter. Look what’s happened since.”
Next to the stadium, Patrick Wilson, of the Gardens section, was intently finishing up his medicine ball workout, which he does daily, weather permitting.
“It’s more of an obsession,” Wilson said of the routine.
He did a few more presses at the request of OCNJDaily.com, and looked strong doing so.
Wilson was clad in layers on top and thin sneakers, shorts and knee braces. He said he was grimacing from the workout and not the weather.
Nearby on Fourth Street, Jeri Whitehead was taking her 18-year-old miniature poodle, Noodles, for a walk.
Noodles was rocking a jacket-hoodie and seemed not to be bothered much by the cold, at least not while wrapped in Whitehead’s arms.
“Oh, she likes it warmer than this,” Whitehead said of the pooch. “The sun is out which makes it a lot better. We’re looking forward to more bright sunshiny days like this — but warmer.”
On Asbury Avenue it was more difficult to document comments, especially young families.
Not because folks weren’t there or specifically unwilling to talk. They just didn’t want to stop moving in the icy conditions.
No such problem existed indoors, where a group of happy friends were thrifting at Helena Hamilton’s Could Be Yours Consignment boutique at 716 Asbury Ave.
On the Boardwalk, Shannon, of New York, and her friend, Sharon, from Malvern, Pa., who did not wish to give their last names, were out for a stroll with Shannon’s two sons and Sharon’s daughter.
“We saw the sun was shining and we just had to get out and enjoy some fresh air, look at the ocean,” Shannon explained. “We’ve had to be inside for too long.”
Edith Macaluso, of Fair Lawn, and Espie Avena, of Galloway, were excited to explore the store with their kids and Macaluso’s husband, Michael, and pick up a few bargains.
The weather “doesn’t always affect us,” Hamilton said. “People want to get back to their lives (before COVID). Business has been pretty steady all day.”