By MADDY VITALE A pandemic, continued restrictions on openings of some businesses by governor’s order and partly cloudy skies could not keep visitors and residents from Ocean City, where, even in this unprecedented time, families were out enjoying themselves.And on Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start to the summer season, people purchased beach tags, did some shopping — albeit curbside pickup or takeout — strolled the famous Boardwalk, took a dip in the surf, biked, jogged and just had a good time.“Amid COVID-19 people still came to Ocean City. A lot of homeowners and visitors helped with our virtual shopping event through the weekend and people were out on the Boardwalk strolling, taking in the fresh air, and practicing social distancing,” explained Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce.She continued, “I think it was a great weekend for Ocean City. Everyone took notice that Ocean City is a safe place to come with family so long as everyone adheres to wearing masks and standing six feet apart from strangers.” Discounted seasonal beach tags are on sale at locations throughout Ocean City. The 2020 tags are being offered at a discounted price of $20 through June 30. On July 1, the price increases to $25.Gillian noted that the Music Pier, the Welcome Center on the Route 52 Causeway, City Hall and the 34th Street Welcome Center were busy selling the tags over the holiday weekend.“Sales were very good, and it still shows people are going to be here in the summer,” she emphasized.Tom and Joan Still, of Haddonfield, brought their 17-month-old daughter, Brooklyn, to the Boardwalk on Sunday to take in the sights and watch the waves.They also had discounted seasonal beach tags on their minds.The couple waited in line at the Music Pier, where employee Kira Kelly handed them the tags. All of them wore protective masks.Tom and Joan Still, of Haddonfield, and their daughter, Brooklyn, buy their discounted seasonal beach tags for 2020.The Stills come down to the shore several times a year to visit their family, who has a vacation home in Ocean City.It is a tradition that they look forward to year after year.“We weren’t going to change our vacation. We love coming to Ocean City and spending time with family,” Tom said.“We are hoping for a good summer,” added Joan.Just as other tourists and residents took to the Boardwalk, the beach and downtown, it seemed that not even the coronavirus could sway people from heading to their beloved vacation destination in Ocean City.Ocean City Public Information Officer Doug Bergen said Mayor Jay Gillian wanted to reinforce the message of the importance of social distancing.“The mayor would like to remind everybody that the key to protecting everybody’s health and safety this summer will be in maintaining at least six feet of space between strangers and in wearing face coverings in any crowded or enclosed area, including the Boardwalk, public restrooms and takeout food lines,” Bergen said. The Ocean City Beach Patrol’s Shanin Theiss continues a Memorial Day tradition of more than 75 years by placing a wreath in the ocean to honor those who sacrificed their lives in military service. (Photo courtesy City of Ocean City)While downtown and Boardwalk merchants’ doors are open, the majority of businesses cannot let customers inside, unless the store owners sell essential goods such as food.Restaurants offer curbside pickup, takeout and delivery service.Michele Gillian noted that as Gov. Phil Murphy continues to allow the gradual reopening of businesses, it will really help the mom-and-pop shops that rely on the summer season to see them through the year. Curbside pickup, which was just recently reinstated by the governor, accounts for roughly 10 percent of sales for merchants, officials said.On May 30, hotels will once again be allowed to open, Gillian said. Ocean City has its share of hotels and motels, in addition to rental properties that people book sometimes a year in advance for their shore vacations.“The hospitality industry – the hotels – are ready and working hard to make sure they are following all the CDC recommendations. They can’t wait to get their first visitors since the shutdown,” Gillian explained. “People are coming back for the beaches, the Boardwalk, shopping, sailing and taking advantage of all that Ocean City has to offer. I think we are on good road to the summer of 2020 — in the world of COVID-19, where there is a new normal.”She added that the shutdown has been hard on Ocean City, as it has been on the rest of the shore communities.“Hopefully, the governor will give us the word and we will be ready,” Gillian said.People are buying up the 2020 seasonal beach tags. Bicyclists and Boardwalk strollers get some fresh ocean air over Memorial Day weekend, while using social distancing.
Buoniconti was examined by a Boston University physician in 2017, who said Buoniconti had all the signs of CTE. However, a conclusive diagnosis was impossible — at this point the only way to determine if someone has CTE is to examine the brain after a person has passed.With that, Buoniconti pledged in 2017 to donate his brain for research.During his playing career, Buoniconti was known as a force on the field. He spent the first seven years of his 14-year career with the Boston Patriots before he was traded to the Dolphins in 1969.Buoniconti said he was devastated when his hometown Patriots traded him and considered retiring but decided to stay with Miami. His decision led him to be part of the famous “No Name Defense” and a legendary 1972 Dolphins team that went 17-0 en route to winning Super Bowl 7 and then was part of the 1973 team that saw the Dolphins win Super Bowl 8.Buoniconti retired in 1976 with two Pro Bowl and six AFL All-Star selections under his belt. In 2001 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In addition to becoming a TV presence on HBO’s trailblazing “Inside the NFL” in the 1980s, he also eventually started the Buoniconti Fund after his son Marc became paralyzed during a college football game in 1985. This organization helped launch the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which has become a huge contributor to neurological research.NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, noted Buoniconti’s contributions on the field and off:”All of us at the NFL are deeply saddened by the passing of Nick Buoniconti. Nick will be remembered as a champion on and off the field. He was the leader of one of the most dominant NFL teams in history and earned his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with his grit, fearlessness and skill while playing with the Patriots and Dolphins.”Nick was also a broadcaster and businessman, but his biggest impact was through the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which he co-founded in 1985. The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has become one of the country’s largest neurological centers and has provided funds for spinal and brain research; as well as hope and comfort to thousands of people and their families. We extend our condolences to his wife Lynn, his daughter Gina, his sons Marc and Nick, and his entire family.”In the HBO documentary, Marc said: “We’re both, in a way, paralyzed. I’m paralyzed because I can’t do the basic things in life. It’s not pleasant to think about where my life is going to take me.” Nick Buoniconti, who helped the Dolphins win Super Bowls 7 and 8 in the early 1970s, has died, the team confirmed Wednesday. He was 78.The Hall of Fame linebacker had been battling dementia and showing signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which was highlighted in HBO’s documentary “The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti.” In the documentary, Buoniconti was healthy enough to conduct the interview from his home but described how he had a hard time keeping his thoughts straight.“Everything is jumbled for me. It’s just not possible for me to do it without stumbling,” Buoniconti said in the documentary. Related News NFL news and notes: Dolphins make coaching moves; Ezekiel Elliott still a no-show Ryan Fitzpatrick ‘leading the way’ to be Dolphins’ starting QB, Brian Flores says When asked in 2017 if he would have kept playing if he knew what years of hits and concussions would do to his brain, Nick Buoniconti didn’t sugarcoat his answer.“I didn’t have any idea the price would be this debilitating,” he said, via the Palm Beach Post. “Had I known, would I have played? I had no alternative; there was no other way for me to get a college education. Football kept rewarding me — I can’t deny that. But I’m paying the price.“Everybody pays the piper.”