By MADDY VITALE
One word could sum up the sentiment of families on the beaches around Ocean City on Labor Day afternoon – sad.
Sad because the unofficial last hours of summer were upon them.
“We came down for the last hurrah,” said Jamie VanNorden, of Macungie, Pa. “We wanted to get in the last drops of summer.”
VanNorden and her husband, John, brought their family of five daughters and two sons, a family friend and an exchange student down to Ocean City for a day trip to spend some time on the beach at 34th Street.
“We came down for our weeklong vacation in July,” VanNorden said. “We try to get down as often as we can.”
VanNorden’s grandmother took her mother, her mother took her and now she and her husband make it their tradition to take their family to Ocean City.
“I love the environment. It is really family-friendly,” she noted. “It is a good place to make memories.”
John VanNorden called Ocean City “a perfect place for kids.”
While the VanNordens’ daughters lounged on beach chairs, their sons and their friends tossed a football.
Jennifer Plousis didn’t have to travel far to go to the beach with her 9-year-old daughter, Maddie.
The two, along with Plousis’ family friends, Jenifer and Rob Bremen, of East Brunswick, and their 8-year-old son Matthew, took in the beautiful day.
The kids ran to the water’s edge to dip their feet in, while the parents watched.
“We’re sad but we are looking forward to locals’ summer,” Plousis said with a smile of the end of the traditional summer season. “It is nice through September and there is still a lot to do.”
Not too far from the busy beach of swimmers and sunbathers was a place to enjoy the water and the beach, one that the Evans and Heyes families would prefer to keep to themselves.
Corsons Inlet State Park on the southern tip of Ocean City had just about everything a person could want, family members said.
There was a beach, inviting water and a place to jet ski, kayak and fish.
And just a few families shared the idea to head there on Labor Day.
Lindsey Evans and her brother, Graham, both of Mays Landing, kayak at the inlet from April through Labor Day and thought it would be a good escape from the crowds over the holiday weekend.
“I’m a teacher in Margate and said to my brother that since I go back to work, we better get the kayak in the water one last time for the season,” Lindsey Evans explained. “We thought it would be a great place for the whole family on Labor Day.”
They brought their mom, Joan Evans, their grandfather, Graham Heyes, of Mays Landing, and their uncle, Eric Heyes, and his wife, Roseanne.
“We were looking for something different to do,” Joan Heyes remarked. “Lindsey thought this would be a good place to go.”
And it seemed to be a hit for the entire family. They had their coolers and each other on a bustling holiday with no worries about parking or crowds.
“My dad hasn’t been to the beach for a while, so we thought it might be a good idea since there aren’t the crowds,” Joan Heyes noted.
Graham Heyes said of the choice to come to the inlet, “I like it very much.”
While the Heyes and Evans families lounged on the beach, other visitors were on the move.
Brittany Kennedy, of Williamstown, her son, Dominic, 11, and her fiancé, Joe Stell, hopped on their jet skis to cruise around the inlet.
Brittany said Dominic’s favorite place to jet ski is definitely in the inlet.
“He likes to jump the waves and the best part of it is he has the bay and the ocean,” Kennedy said. “He gets the best of both worlds.”
Stell said the family loves coming to the inlet.
“This is the best time to come down here,” Stell said. “It’s so peaceful. It’s probably the best place we go to for jet skiing.”