By TIM KELLY
If you forecast it, they will come.
Beginning on Wednesday, broadcasters and websites have been calling for warmer-than-normal temperatures in Ocean City this weekend. Not a little bit warmer, but 30 degrees warmer.
That was pretty much all visitors and locals needed to hear. It didn’t matter that temperatures never quite reached 60 as predicted and that gusty winds made it feel cooler than that. Or that the winds and flat surf kept most beaches deserted.
In Ocean City, where year-round events and numerous activities present a wide variety of non-beachy things to do, and where Sunday’s forecast was for the possibility of a 70-degree day after morning rain, folks were out and about.
Rob and Lisa Lobisi, of Longport, took note of the predictions and made good on their plan to walk onto the Ocean City Municipal Golf Course at 2600 Bay Avenue.
“I’ve been coming here for more than 20 years,” Rob said. “We heard it was going to be mild and it would be a good chance to get out and work on our game.”
Lisa described herself as “a beginner” on the links but said she enjoyed the game and bonding with her husband in a shared interest. After the impromptu practice and instructional session, she said the couple would cap off their visit to O.C. with a breakfast or lunch stop in town.
The Lobisis were a strong example of our observations. Throughout a tour of sites around town on Saturday and a visit to the foot of the Ninth Street Causeway – where cars were streaming into town at an atypical volume for the second weekend in January – Ocean City was jumping.
At a playground a few blocks north of the golf course, parents and other caregivers and more than a dozen kids took advantage of the sunshine.
Jakki Sullivan and children Jetty, 5, Dreyson, 3, and Lili, 1, all of Northfield, cavorted with their mom and her cousin, Christi Ladislaw of Egg Harbor Township, who was babysitting 3-year-old nephew Knoxley Chambers.
“Of course!” Jakki said when asked if the unseasonably warm weather predictions had played a role in their planning.
“We heard about that on Wednesday and Thursday and said, ‘Let’s get the kids out to burn off some energy.’ We love this playground and we love coming to Ocean City,” she noted.
A visit to the Boardwalk revealed a large number of people bundled up, but still out there strolling, shopping, riding bikes and jogging.
Dana Dudo, of Northfield, and her mother Joan Salerno, of Linwood, were representative of the latter category, enjoying a brisk run on the famous wooden way.
“It’s about the sunny day and enjoying time with each other, and, of course, getting in our run,” Joan said.
The windy conditions didn’t seem to matter.
“They are coming out of the Southwest,” Joan said of the gusts.
“I know because my husband Jack is a surfer,” she added with a laugh.
Upon completing a loop, Dana said the pair would “run some errands” and continue their mother-daughter day.
“It’s really beautiful out here,” she added.
Nearby, Raymond and Sarah Horn were strolling with kids Morgan, 6 and Jack, 18 months.
“We came all the way from Suffern, (New York). We come down for a week every summer and at least a couple times (in the offseason),” Raymond said. “When we heard it was going to be nice, that was the deciding factor.”
Their town, a tiny village just across the state line from the northeastern corner of New Jersey, is about a three-hour drive to Ocean City, but a world away from their routine.
“My mother is the one who made me addicted to this place,” said Sarah, who added she enjoys coming down with female friends for “girls’ weekends. “Now we’re passing down the love of Ocean City to (Morgan and Jack).”
Joan McCrane, of Fallsington, Pa., was entertaining her great grandchildren, 5-year-old Summer and 3-year-old Nathan McClintock of Northeast Philly. Also on hand at Joan’s condo unit at the Sifting Sands at Ninth and Ocean avenues were the kids’ grandparents, Pete and Kelly Hancock, of Southampton Pa., and Pete and Kelly’s pet Chihuahua, Chase.
The group was celebrating a late Christmas gift exchange, which had been planned long before the weather forecast came in. However, the opportunity to try out Summer and Nathan’s new roller skates hadn’t been on the agenda previously.
“It’s nice out, so why not?” Joan asked. “The kids always have fun here.”
Speaking of skating, we counted more than 30 youngsters enjoying the weather and atmosphere at the Ocean City Skatepark at Fifth and West.
Such is life on an unseasonably warm January day in Ocean City.