Ice Cream Entertainers
A clown horn toots, and a server in a striped vest and bow tie scurries to a table shouting, “Ladies and gentlemen, this man ordered a cantaloupe sundae. On the count of three we’re going to point to him and say, ‘But I can’t elope—my father has the ladder!’” Giggles and groans ripple through the Music Man Singing Ice Cream Shoppe in Lavallette, and the show has yet to begin. Soon the lights dim and the servers re-emerge for half an hour of one-liners, goofy gags, cabaret numbers, and musical parodies. The talented cast of eight (most in their early twenties) always wraps up with a musical message: “Eat up, pay up, and get ooooouuut!”
The audience floats out the back door, and a new crowd is ushered in. So it goes, every 45 minutes from 6 pm until midnight, every night from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Husband-and-wife team Robert Agliata and Josephine Sessa-Agliata, who live off-season in Colts Neck, opened in 2003. Agliata serves as MC and cast leader. His wife, whose grandparents ran a Brooklyn candy store, is a graphic designer who handles Music Man’s media. Cookies, cakes, and buttermilk waffles are whipped up in the kitchen. The ice cream is made by Arctic of Trenton. “It’s quality, it’s mom-and-pop,” Sessa-Agliata says.
Ice cream with entertainment at the Shore dates to at least 1975, when Beach Haven’s ShowPlace Ice Cream Parlour opened. ShowPlace also serves Arctic, but each sundae is named for a Broadway show. “If someone gets the Oliver Twist,” says Erin Esposito, director of education at the nearby Surflight Theatre and a former ShowPlace performer, “everybody in the place has to stand up and do the twist.” Music Man: 2305 Grand Central Ave, 732-85-HAPPY, njmusicman.com. ShowPlace: Centre Street at Beach Ave, 609-492-0018, surflight.org.—Michael Parillo
After being impounded last Memorial Day for operating without a proper permit, the Nardi’s Tavern bus is back. A reassuring emblem of summer on LBI, the pink 2001 Bluebird bus is up and running on an emergency transit license issued by the state. In 1997, safety concerns and a DUI crackdown led Nardi’s founder, Bob Nardizzi, to buy an old schoolbus, paint it pink, and use it to ferry tipsy patrons to and from his Beach Haven tavern. Three buses and almost ten years later, current owner John Brennan has taken things up a notch. The current bus has 32 seats, a/c, and cost $52,000.
Filled with revelers on weekends, the bus is a party in its own right. It runs between Holgate and Ship Bottom, and will pick you up on the Boulevard near your house (or even from another bar) if Nardi’s is your destination. Later it takes you home. Call the dispatcher for an ETA. Nardi’s: 11801 Long Beach Blvd. Dispatcher: 609-492-9538.—Stan Parish
The 86,000-gallon heated pool at Harrah’s opening Memorial Day in Atlantic City is, the company claims, the largest in the city. It’s part of a four-acre entertainment complex that includes seven Jacuzzis, twelve cabanas, poolside movies, and live music. Spa junkies will love the new, adjoining Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. Lovers can impress their others by booking one of the couples’ rooms at the spa. Harrahs.com—Jen A. Miller
You never petted a Madagascar hissing cockroach or a Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula? You don’t know what you’re missing, but you can find out at this insect learning center in Toms River owned by the Koerner family (which, ironically, also owns Ozane Termite and Pest Control in Toms River). Kids can crawl the Termite Subway, a tube that simulates a termite burrow. Handlers will bring out live specimens (petting optional). Watch honeybees and carpenter ants working in glass-enclosed environments. The facility also has thousands of pinned specimens. Insectropolis recently acquired a collection of 10,000 butterflies donated by the family of the late Sergio Sciancalepore Sr., a lifelong collector from Cranford. The rest rooms? They’re marked Spidermen and Ladybugs. 732-349-0559, insectropolis.com—Jon Coen
Island Beach State Park
You, the gulls, and nine miles of pristine barrier islands. (Bathing pavilion, bird trail, cranberry wetland, too.) island_beach_park.tripod.com
The bad news is that fertilizer, pesticide, and other kinds of human-related runoff causes more jellyfish (and sea nettles) to bloom. And, according to the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) in Ocean County, which studies Barnegat Bay, there is more runoff there thanks in part to increased construction. Any good news? Well, according to the Alliance for a Living Ocean in North Beach Haven (livingocean.org), jellyfish are more abundant in July and August after a winter of above-average ocean temperatures. Last winter, the water temperature was just average—35 degrees. So there’s hope. If you get stung, MATES recommends pouring alcohol or baby powder on any tentacles stuck to the skin—it keeps the nematocysts from triggering. To ease pain, apply diluted ammonia, sodium bicarbonate, vinegar, or a paste made of meat tenderizer and water.
“Meat tenderizer is an enzyme which breaks down proteins,” MATES explains. “Jellyfish venom is made of protein and is consequently destroyed by the meat tenderizer.”—JC
Kohr Bros. Custard
Aviation has the Wright Brothers, dessert has the Kohr brothers. Okay, we exaggerate. But in 1919, Archie and Elton Kohr did invent their delicious frozen custard after much tinkering with an ice cream machine on their dairy farm in York, PA. The stuff debuted on Coney Island, but it has long been identified with the Shore, and we wouldn’t want to be without it. (Twelve stores in New Jersey.) Kohrbros.com.—Jessica Murphy
Lifeguards are not just beautiful people able to get a great tan. Many are elite athletes, and the best place to witness their prowess is the United States Lifesaving Association Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships in Belmar July 25. Entrants from New York to Virginia will compete in the craft events—surf boats, paddle boards, surf skis—in the last major test before the nationals in August. Keep an eye peeled for local favorite Matt Nunnally of Bradley Beach, one of the best in the nation. Usla.org.—Jen Brown
So stately stand the lights of the Jersey Shore that it is easy to forget their purpose: to warn approaching ships of hazardous shoals and shallows—treacherous features that cost thousands of lives over the years. Slender Absecon Light in Atlantic City, built in 1857, looks as imposing today as it did the day it was finished (though its famous paint scheme, red band in the middle for daytime visibility, dates only to 1972). Cape May Lighthouse perfectly suits its Victorian surroundings. Ambrose, a platform some seven miles off the Sandy Hook coast manned by the Coast Guard between the 1820s and 1990s, isn’t much to look at but has survived two collisions with tankers. Even tougher is the light at Sandy Hook. Built in 1754, it miraculously has survived the elements, neglect, generations of vandals, and newer beacon technology.—Michael Moran
Long Beach Idol
You don’t have to impress Simon to earn your moment of public adulation. Croon at the second annual Long Beach Idol contest at the Surf City Hotel. Every Wednesday night starting July 4, contestants will belt out numbers from the song list, backed by the house band, Eleven:Eleven. Two singers per week will be picked by audience vote. Winners perform for judges in semifinals August 15, finals August 22. First prize: five day, all-expense-paid trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for two. Surfcityhotel.com.—JC
The fellas in the lineup for the Atlantic City Surf and Lakewood Blue Claws are the real boys of summer. (Players are put up by local families in return for free season tickets.) The Surf play 53 games at Bernie Robbins Stadium on Route 40, just west of Atlantic City, from May to September in the independent Can-Am League. The Blue Claws are a Single A Phillies affiliate. The ’Claws, who won the 2006 South Atlantic League Championship, play April to September at First Energy Ballpark, 2 Stadium Way, Lakewood. Lakewoodblueclaws.com, acsurf.com.—JC
Movies on the Beach Every evening at sundown and 11 pm, watch free first-run movies from the comfort of your beach chair. The first flick is always family-friendly. Andrews Avenue at the beach, Wildwood. This idea has caught on in other towns, too, so check entertainment listings near you. 609-523-0202—JAM
Henry Carlton Beck, author of the South Jersey history Jersey Genesis, calls it “the most wonderful of the unrecognized rivers of America.” The shallow, cedar-tinged waters of the Mullica meander some 55 miles through scrub pines and sugar sand before streaming into Great Bay. During the Revolutionary War, near the mouth of the Mullica, local militia clashed with the British at the Battle of Chestnut Neck. Also in the area, not far from Leeds’ Point, Mother Leeds was said to have given birth to her thirteenth child, who became known as the Jersey Devil. Russell Juelg, a Pinelands Preservation Alliance naturalist (pinelandsalliance.org), invites families on a Jersey Devil Hunt June 1, the night before the full moon: campfire, Pine Barrens music, search for the fabled creature. If you’d rather not get spooked, paddle by daylight in a canoe or kayak from Bel Haven Canoe Rental in Green Bank. 609-965-2205, belhavencanoe.com.—JC