Shore communities are bracing for a busy extended holiday weekend, despite seeing less-than-blockbuster numbers last weekend.
"I think people have chosen to come Wednesday-Thursday-Friday, rather than Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday," said Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce.
Gillian said she thinks last weekend's storms caused some people to stay back from the shore, but as of today she said the bridges coming into the city are full. She said the mostly sunny weather forecast doesn't hurt, either.
"It looks great," she said. "We couldn't be happier."
The same holds true at Jenkinson's Boardwalk, in Point Pleasant Beach.
"Next weekend is going to be a very strong weekend," said Marilou Halvorsen, Jenkinson's director of marketing.
Halvorsen said she had expected two strong weekends surrounding the Fourth, but she said last weekend was weaker than anticipated.
She said part of the reason may be a spate of recent headlines about the borough's alcohol regulations.
"It's no secret that Point Pleasant Beach has been targeted with some negative publicity about what's been going on with the mayor and council and bar closings," she said. "I think that's actually hurt business a little bit."
The borough council passed an ordinance earlier this year that would have required bars to close at midnight, instead of 2 a.m. The law was to take effect this month, but the state's Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control blocked the measure, pending further review. That means bars can keep last call at 2 a.m. for now.
Halvorsen said Independence Day is typically the biggest holiday of the year for Jenkinson's, followed by Memorial Day, and then Labor Day.
In Ocean City, Gillian said the Fourth of July marks the beginning of the height of the summer tourism season.
"Memorial day starts the season off," she said. "This (July Fourth) really kicks the season into high gear."
Gillian said optimism is high for the rest of the summer. People seem to be booking earlier this year, she said, and parking and beach tag revenues are both up about 10 percent.