Watch CBS News

Cape May kicks off Memorial Day weekend with early visitors and new ADA accessible beach mat

Cape May unveils new mats to make beach more accessible
Cape May unveils new ADA accessible beach mat 02:09

CAPE MAY, N.J. (CBS) -- From the promenade where American flags line Beach Avenue to the ocean where waves crashed on shore, many people arrived in Cape May early to get a jumpstart on the Memorial Day weekend.

"Beat the traffic for sure and try and get some sun while we can," said Melissa Kreppel, who drove down to visit family.

"I needed a break from work, so the sooner the better," said Ryan Kreppel.

The beach town is about to come alive with visitors. At The Virginia Hotel on Jackson Street, which is part of Cape Resorts, workers were planting flowers Thursday, hanging patriotic bunting outside, and putting the finishing touches on the property before the major influx of people.


"It means a little extra revenue, which is always good, but it gets the summer started. We like people here, we don't like it quiet," said Dave Chanudet, a gardener with Cape Resorts.

Back on the beach, workers were setting up chairs and getting cabanas ready.

Mayor Zack Mullock told CBS News Philadelphia tourism, of course, surges in the summer, and both he and all the businesses were hoping for another banner season.

"We love welcoming people here to the city, and we are ready to kick off the summer season no doubt," Mullock said.

 "This is really the kickoff, whether the weather is warm or cold, everybody is here," Chanudet said.

Early visitors get a jumpstart on Memorial Day Weekend in Cape May 02:05

Cape May providing more access to the beach

The beach has always been a place that brings Barbara Maurer a lot of joy, and now for the first time she's able to share that experience with her son, Sean McDonald.

"I've always walked on the beach, and this is the first time in 34 years that my son can enjoy the ocean with me," Maurer said.

McDonald, 34, has cerebral palsy. His mom said he's shaky on his feet, and was never able to easily spend a day near the ocean.

"He can't walk long distances. He needs a wheelchair and it's impossible to push him on the beach," she said.

Until now -- Cape May is unveiling a new ADA accessible beach mat, which stretches for more than a mile, from the cove at the end of Beach Avenue past Convention Hall.


"Oh, I love it," McDonald said. "I love being close to the beach."

"I have to tell you, on a daily basis, we have a lot of mundane types of things the mayor does...filling potholes and things like that, but this is the type of project that really warms the heart," Mullock said.

The mayor said Cape May received a grant for the project, which is now helping provide beach access for everyone.

Justin Mattes, who also has cerebral palsy, said the mat is providing him with a new perspective. He also likes to take photographs, and being able to take his chair on the beach is helping provide new material.

"I love it, I love being close to the beach," Mattes said.

"I think Cape May always tries to be the leader in so many things and most of the time we get a little upset when we get copied, but this is one of those cases where we hope every town does this," Mullock said.

Maurer and McDonald are already logging miles together, and they both said the mat has changed their lives in a positive way.

"He loves the ocean breeze in his face and the smell of the ocean. He's thrilled...we both are," Maurer said.

The city has posted photos of the beach mat on social media, and officials will hold a ribbon cutting on Friday.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.