By Maddy Vitale
Dede Rothman and two of her close friends stopped to take a break in between shopping on a sunny and mild Saturday in Ocean City on Girls Weekend.
Rothman, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Beth Chadwick, of Lancaster, Pa., and Keirsten Kassel, of Carlisle, Pa., have been friends since high school. They do not let life, or miles, get in the way of their excursions to the Jersey Shore.
They stay with a friend who has a home in Ocean City and make a long and unforgettable weekend around the featured event. Girls Weekend translates into discounts on boutique-style clothing, jewelry, shoes and more, as well as special offers at eateries.
“This is our fourth year coming to it,” Rothman said with a beaming smile. “We stay with a friend and make the weekend of it.”
By noon, the trio already had two hours of browsing underway, along with bags of merchandise.
“I got a sweater and shoes,” Rothman said.
Chadwick picked up a shirt and jewelry that she was excited about, and Kassel got a pair of jeans and jewelry.
“We always walk around and shop on Girls Weekend,” Kassel said.
Chadwick added that she liked the way Ocean City creates ambience for Girls Weekend.
“The store owners have water bottles and snacks they give out. They just really make it special for the customers,” she said.
Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, called Girls Weekend a “huge success.”
“This event has become more and more popular and is a favorite among our local guests and out-of-town guests,” Gillian said. “The downtown was crowded with lots of shoppers enjoying the great specials throughout Asbury Avenue and Ocean City.”
Stainton’s Gallery of Shops had a steady stream of customers in and out of the building, where shops featured merchandise from jewelry to clothing to food. There was even a book signing.
Gina Secrest, of Ocean City, looked at some treats at Two Tin Crows, a souvenir and specialty shop in the gallery.
“I think Girls Weekend is amazing,” Secrest said. “I just came back from getting my nails polished and it was busy in there. Everyone is out and about having a good time.”
Stephanie Cook, of Woodbine, browsed some sales racks outside Bella U Boutique and ventured inside where brightly hued spring and summer fashions and jewelry greeted customers.
Cook already had several bags filled with Girls Weekend merchandise, but was excited about doing some more shopping.
“I grew up in Ocean City. I love Asbury Avenue. Bella U is fabulous,” Cook said of her favorite shop. “They have great stuff. It is stylish and affordable.”
Trish Giova, owner of Bella U, said the day was shaping up to be fantastic.
“It is a great weekend,” Giova noted. “It is a kickoff to the season and the weather has been amazing.”
While shopping was on the top of the list for the weekend’s priorities, other activities also kept people entertained and amused.
In addition to shopping, there were classes, demonstrations and workshops scheduled throughout the downtown. Guests could participate in everything from wellness activities, to crafts, to tastings.
For Nicole and Nick Farina, the day meant taking their son Jack, 2, to Mark Soifer Park to have fun and socialize and enjoy the warm weather.
“What is nice about Girls Weekend is it is the start of seeing more people in town. Ocean City is full of life again,” Nicole Farina said as she scooped up Jack and they sat in a lifeguard boat that decorates the park. “This is part of the reason why we love it so much.”
Shoppers perused the avenue. People lined up outside Yianni’s Café to grab a bite to eat. Ta-Dah welcomed guests with balloons inviting them into the store.
Sarah Ferrari, of Estell Manor, and her mother, Cheryl Perry, of Ocean City, enjoyed the sunshine and strolled up and down Asbury Avenue before they decided to hit the Ocean City Coffee Company.
“They have really good coffee there,” Ferrari said. “Then we are going to Ta-Dah.”
Perry put her arm around her daughter and said, “I think Girls Weekend is wonderful. We come to it every year and we love it.”