Dear Wildwood, New Jersey,
I first stepped foot on your mile-long beach at the age of four and returned year after year. I ate ice cream in the sand when the cart came through, watched the dolphin fins peak over the waves that crashed down and exhausted the rides on Morey's Piers. If I close my eyes I can still see the chairlift starting its continuous circle letting me know that the rides were open for the day.
I can't remember all the memories of one full week my parents and I spent at your beach, but I remember so much from all of the various trips we've taken over the years and I think that is worth thanking you for.
Thank you for inviting us to stay with you for the first time in 1999 because every time I visit I'm instantly taken back to when I was younger. I played mini golf with pirates and took a helicopter tour over the ocean, terrified that I would lose my flip-flop while the pilot laughed in the headset. I woke up way too early to walk with my mom along the water to see the horseshoe crabs. I got into a tiny water tank and tried defeating my unknown enemies. The thing I did most was ride the Tram Car, and yes, I still watch out for it when I visit now.
I need to thank Morey's Piers, especially for this past 2015 summer. I returned with my mom and one of my closest friends and on one of your piers you have all the rides that are no longer running on display. The thing that tickled me was the shark statue you have towards the back of the pier because I can still see the little girl that was once me being held by my dad into the sharks mouth and I know if he were still on this earth he would get a kick out of seeing it again. I can say he loved you too.
Returning has been wonderful as I'm older because I get to see all the changes you make. Some of them make me very sad, like the statues not being on the roof of one of the buildings along the boardwalk or the big talking pirate that shot his cannon at you no longer running, but just knowing that I have those memories, as well as countless others, makes me happy. One of the best things I've been able to do is share some of these new, and old, memories with my friends and even my cousin who came with us in 2000. I still laugh when I think about her and I laying in our Adventurer hotel room getting scolded for laughing, when we were supposed to be sleeping, because of the Tram Car yelling its catchphrase. I hope she still laughs at this memory too.
Wildwood, I hope kids who are now in their 20s read this and get taken back to all of the memories they've had with you or memories of other places they went to year after year with their families. I hope parents read this and understand how important a reoccurring vacation can be to a child because I wouldn't be the same person I am today without you. Yes, exploring new places is a must, but I wouldn't know what a good soft cone swirl tastes like from Kohr Bros. I wouldn't be as terrified of Ferris wheels, which I can thank the one that stands tall and proud on Mariner's Landing for. The most important thing I wouldn't know is all the memories I have created with you for almost 17 years and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can't wait to see you again.
Sara La Cotti