Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Does SIC on Back of Cars Mean?

Have you seen those magnets on the back of cars and SUV's that say "SIC" ?  You probably wonder what the SIC stands for.

If you are an English major, don't assume for a minute that magnet refers to an error that already exists in a quotation.  Especially don't make this assumption if you see the SIC magnet / bumper sticker in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware tri-state area.  I think people would take offense to this presumption. It would be up there with accusing someone's sister of being their mother.

The initials S.I.C. stand for Sea Isle City. Sea Isle City is located in Cape May County New Jersey.  People who display these magnets or bumper stickers are big fans of this shore point. They usually vacation there in the summer.

If you've ever seen one of these magnets, comment below and let us know.  Sea Isle is a great spot and deserves a little recognition (though not too much, I'd hate to see it get too crowded.  I love the fishing, the nightlife, the great beach, the wonderful bay, the boating and the great fun and friends I've had and made there over the years.
So next time someone askes you "What does SIC on the back of cars mean?"  Tell them Sea Isle City, then scoff at them as if they are stupid... kidding.

Another Sea Isle Summer Shore Post

So are you Irish or not?  Even if you have not one trace of Irish blood in your family, you should still get out and celebrate St. Pats.  A cool place to do that is, believe it or not Sea Isle.  Read my review of St. Pats in Sea Isle here.

Rent House For Polar Bear in Sea Isle, NJ - Good Luck!

If you plan on renting  a house in Sea Isle City, New Jersey for their annual Polar Bear Plunge I highly suggest that you do not wait until a few days or even a few weeks before the event.
Sea Isle City is largely a vacation town and there are rentals available in the winter.  For the enormously popular Polar Bear Plungemany of the available houses are being used by their respective owners so they can attend the event. The rest of the homes for rent go really fast.  
Some years back assumed the landlord we rent from in the summer would allow us to rent the house for the Polar Bear.  By the time we asked him it was running late and he wasn't sure if it would be available to us or not.   There was no way we were going to miss 'The Plunge' so we decided to contact a friend of ours that owns multiple properties in Sea Isle.   They were all rented!

The humanity!
Desperate we went to a real estate agent who offered us a place to stay for about six hundred dollars.  We almost shelled out the money but our summer landlord bailed us out (he really is a saint).  We were able to get into his house at the last minute.
My point to all this is don't assume that Sea Isle, NJ is such a sleepy town during the winter that you'll be able to just rent a house anytime.  The Polar Bear Plunge is a wildly popular and successful event.  The island is as full as any summer weekend.  It gets real crowded.
Good luck in your efforts to rent a house for the Polar Bear  Sea Isle City , NJ    Plan ahead early and you'll be OK.

More Great Posts on Sea Isle City Summer Shore By TurtleDog

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Monday, January 23, 2012

What is Sea Isle's Polar Bear Plunge?

OK, if you don't know about Sea Isle's Polar Bear Plunge you are definitely not 'in-the-know'.   This post will explain what the plunge is all about, when it is and who attends it.

What The Heck is the Polar Bear Plunge ?

Sea Isle City, NJ hosts a Polar Bear Plunge every year in February.    You need a strange combination of ingredients to have a successful plunge.  You Need:

1. A town or city with some kind of body of water that people can jump into.  Lakes, ponds, the ocean, etc

2. That area needs to experience very cold temperatures at least part of the year.

3. A bunch of people crazy, insane, sick enough to want to jump into those waters at bitter cold temperatures and typically willing to pay a fee to do so as well.  Oh yeah, these guys also tend to sign a waiver bascially saying, "Yeah, hypothermia is not a problem for me."

4. A cult of people, like me, who do not go into the water but love to watch everyone jump in.

So, People Jump in? That's all That Happens?

No! I mean, 'yes' people jump in the water, in bathing suits and come out all pink and shivering while others (like me) watch in warm winter clothing but 'no' that is not all that happens.  Afterward, the real festival begins.  You need to be a true reveller to enjoy SIC Polar Plunge.  All the watering holes are open and people drink, eat and party in delight all night long.  

There is also a terrific costume contest held prior to everyone jumping into the water.  You must be one of the folks registered to jump into the water to dress up and compete in the costume contest.

What Kind of People Go To The Plunge

 Besides watching everyone jump into the ice cold ocean the rest of the festivities is pretty much a 21 year  old an over event.  That said, the age range can go from 21 to 121 years old. Big age range.    I'm in my 40's and I feel pretty comfortable at the plunge, especially during the afternoon when that is likely the median age range.  As the event gets later it is more a crowd in their twenties.

I'd say about 50,000 people attend the event.  I'll venture to say 'only' 2000-3000 actually go into the water. The rest are their for the party.  Don't believe me? Wait until the a couple weeks before The Plunge and then try renting a house anywhere in Sea Isle  for that weekend. You'll have a hard time getting one.
In my years of going to Sea Isle during the weekend's in the summer, I find that a large percentage of attendees (swimmers and non swimmers alike) consist of especially hard-core, devoted SIC summer renters.  If you've been weekending in Sea Isle during the summer, you'll likely see the same friends at the Polar Bear.

When is The plunge?

Usually the 3rd weekend in February.  I wrote a brief post on that date here

When Does it Start?

Historically, the plunge happens at 2:00 then the party begins and doesn't stop until late at night.

Didn't Someone Tragically Die at The Polar Bear Plunge?

Yes, and this is one of the saddest subjects I've ever added to a blog post.  A woman named Tracy Hottenstien from Conshocken PA passed away in February, 2009 during this event.  She did not die from the actual 'plunge' portion of this event.  Her death was ruled an accident due to intoxication and hypothermia that occurred sometime outside, near the marinas, during the evening. Some suspect she was murdered, though it does not appear there is any evidence supporting that claim.   If you know of any details of her passing, please contact the Sea Isle City Police Department.  I did not know Tracy but I've heard nothing but good things about her so if you know of anything, please let the authorities know.

Have Fun and Be Careful

The Polar Bear plunge is great fun and a big part of Sea Isle's winter culture.  Sea Isle is a very safe town but always be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.  Be careful how much you drink and never drink and drive.  You owe it to yourself and others to have a good time, but more importantly, to be safe and healthy.

More Great Posts on Sea Isle City Summer Shore by TurtleDog

When The Party Stops and The Family Fun Begins, Will My Kids Like Sea Isle City?

I Gotta Go! Where Are The Public Restrooms in SIC ?

Sea Isle City NJ Polar Bear Plunge Date

Sea Isle City has some great winter events to keep things in town hot during the cold weather.  Every year Sea Isle City, NJ hosts its own Polar Bear Plunge.

You may have heard of Polar Bear Plunges at other places in the United States.  Basically, if a town has a body of water nearby, experiences cold temperatures,  and has a cult of crazy people willing to jump in freezing cold water, you have a plunge.

If you want to learn more about 'The Plunge' I wrote a post that will tell you what to expect. Click here to learn more.

Please Check Out Some of These Other SIC Posts

Get Cheaper Beach Tags in Sea Isle

Any Idea What Street I Should Rent on During Summer?

Historically, the plunge is held the third Saturday of February.  It is held every year.   In 2012, the plunge will be held on February 18. People start jumping into the water typically at 2:00 in the afternoon.  

If you are reading this post and 2012 Plunge has passed check with Sea Isle City for future dates or leave me a message and I'll check for you (as well as update this post)

It is a huge event that draws big crowds that do not even go into the water.  Mark your calendar!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Do Boats Pay Toll to Lift Townsends Sea Isle Avalon Bridge ?

Townsends Inlet bridge is located between Sea Isle and Avalon.  It gets a lot of car traffic over the bridge and plenty of boat traffic under the bridge.   I've driven over this bridge, walked over it and bicycled across it.  I took a boat under it once too and that was pretty cool.  It was not a very big boat though.  It was not one of those vessels that is so tall that the bridge has to lift so the boat can get underneath.

Every so often you'll see traffic lined up on the Sea Isle side and the Avalon side.  The cars are unable to cross the bridge because the toll operator has raised it so that an especially tall boat can get underneath.  I'm not exactly sure if the boat somehow signals the toll person or if the toll person simply keeps a watchful eye out for tall vessels and opens the bridge when needed, but I can say that I have seen it lift and watch some pretty amazing boats pass right on under.

The last time I saw the bridge raise I wondered how much it costs a boater to take his or her watercraft under the bridge.  Actually, better said, I wondered how much money it costs to have the toll operator lift the bridge.

When the ship passed and the bridge closed I pulled my car up along side the toll collector to pay my crossing fee.  I asked him what the price is to raise the bridge so a boat can fit below it.   The answer was that is costs nothing to lift the bridge.  Raising the bridge is free and is a courtesy to boaters.

If you have a really tall craft and want to travel beneath the townsends inlet bridge it won't cost you anything.

Of course, that is as of the date of this article.  If they decide to start EzPass beneath bridges sometime in the future, don't blame me :-)
How About Bicycles - Do I have to Pay a Toll To Bike Across The Bridge?

Bike Toll Over the Sea Isle Avalon Townsends Inlet Bridge ?

I do not bike very often but for some reason the shore is just the place to ride. The surfaces are paved and flat and the traffic, compared to the Philadelphia region, tends to be more forgiving and wary of bicyclists.

I rode my bike one weekend from Sea Isle City (SIC) to Ocean City. As I don't ride often, I was really tired but I simply loved the trip.  Riding on two wheels gave me the chance to slow down and see these popular shore points from a different perspective.  It was very enjoyable.

The following weekend I really pushed myself (and remember, I'm not real good on a bicycle) and went from SIC all the way down to Wildwood.

Pedalling over both the Townsends' inlet bridge and the Corson's Inlet bridge led me to two of the same questions. Is there a toll?

At each bridge I asked the toll collector this very question. Do I have to pay when I am on a bike?.  The answer was 'no' you do not have to pay.  The toll collector will let you cross the bridge at no charge if you are on a non-motorized vehicle.

Just a side note, but one thing I really enjoyed when going over the Townsends bridge from SIC to Avalon was the arch of the bridge.  Going up was kind of tough and I really had to down shift the gears.  Once I got over the arch though, I really picked up some speed. I hit close to 30 miles per hour coming down.  Of course, by applying the brakes you don't have to go this fast, but it was fun and a nice relief from the hard pedal up.  Be careful going down though. Be real careful.  Cars will try to pass you and there is a slight curve toward the bottom of the bridge. Don't steer into traffic or lose control, you'll get really hurt and I'd hate to see that happen to anyone.

The Corson's bridge, by contrast, is a much easier but less exhilarating ride.  It is a very flat surface but pretty scenic. Just don't get too carried away looking around.  There are plenty of cars so be careful.

OK... What About When The Bridge Lifts For A Huge Boat? Does The Boat Have to Pay Anything ?

Will My Kids Like Sea Isle City New Jersey

A lot of people ask if Sea Isle City is a good place for people with children. Sea Isle does have a reputation as a bit of a party town but there are plenty of family events and things to do.

The Playground

In the past few years, I've really seen Sea Isle City, NJ develop facilities that are more and more kid and family oriented.  There is a giant playground / sports facility for young kids and teenagers up along 63rd and Landis.  This play ground is second to none. There is a full baseball and soccer field. There is a roller hockey rink and there is a pretty decent skateboard park.

There are tennis courts too.

For younger kids, there is a fairly diverse playground with swings, a rather awesome jungle gym fort and other terrific fun things to do.

Family Music - Excursion Park

If you enjoy some free, family orientated music, Sea Isle has quite a music venue called Excursion Park.  There is ample lawn and bench seating and the stage is huge. The sound system is great too.  Excursion park is at the end of JFK Boulevard, ocean side of the island, next to the Promenade.

Free Concerts at Excursion Park 

Beachcomber Walk

For those of you vacationing during the week, there are weekly beach comber walks.  Local naturalists teach families about the beach, shells and the ocean.  It is very family oriented, geared more toward children but, even as a grown up, I always manage to learn something new.

Learn More About Beachcomber

The Promenade

The promenade is a concrete 'boardwalk' that runs along the ocean-side of the island.  There are a couple of arcades along the promenade for young kids and teenagers.

Skateboards, roller blades and bicycles are allowed during certain hours

Here Are The Times You Can Skateboard, Bike and Rollerblade on Promenade

Ocean City

By contrast, I think Ocean City, NJ is probably the ultimate kid friendly town as it is a dry town (no bars) and has an outstanding boardwalk. Ocean City really is, in my humble opinion, the ultimate family resort. That said, you don't have to vacation in Ocean City to enjoy it.  It is just a short ride (20 mins or so) from Sea Isle and I'd recommend a visit with the kids if you are nearby.

So, Is Sea Isle Good For Kids?

I think if you plan ahead, be aware of the kid-spots I told you about and do a little research on your own, you'll find it a fairly kid friendly town.  

Did You Know About The Farmers Market in Sea Isle - Click Here