Asbury Park may be the poster child and the picture postcard for the recovering economy along the Jersey Shore this summer.
Beach pass sales have been soaring so far this summer season compared with a strong year in 2010. The city said Memorial Day sales surpassed last year's, according to Garrett Giberson in the Department of Public Works.
And leading up to the July Fourth weekend, following spotty weather during June, sales of the passes are running an estimated $70,000 ahead of last year, when virtually every June weekend was full of good beach weather.
"The attendance on our beach and downtown has just been great so far this year," said Ed Johnson, Asbury Park's Mayor.
New Jersey, of course, is famous -- or infamous -- for requiring the passes, known as badges, on most of its beaches. The revenue from the badges, which run $5 to $8, is used by shore towns to hire lifeguards and keep beaches clean.
Down on Long Beach Island, N.J., Beach Haven is another shore town that has seen a sharp rise in badge sales, though not as dramatic as Asbury Park, up 7 percent so far this year, from 8,920 to 9,520, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
Belmar Administrator Robin Kirk said her town's sales are much stronger than 2008 and 2009, but running a little behind last year.
This year's June weather takes the blame for that, she said.
"Last year was such a phenomenal summer, it's going to be hard to top," Kirk said.
But with a report this week from the Natural Resources Defense Fund and Clean Ocean Action that New Jersey has the second-best record in the nation now for not having to close its beaches because of health hazards, there is a strong sense of optimism for the summer ahead.
"I try to get here as much as I can," said Lauren Trombatura, 26, of Jackson, N.J., while sunning herself on a beach in Belmar.
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