We can debate it. But for me there’s no better season than summer.

It’s what the spring holds promise for. It’s what school kids feel, a euphoric adrenaline rush when those doors fly open on the last day of school. When you’re a kid the summer is a blank page, a clean slate to be filled as you choose with adventure and wonder. Was there anything better than that?

The summer solstice for 2024 is 4:50 p.m. on Thursday, June 20.

Summer Solstice explainer
Summer Solstice explainer (National Weather Service New York)

As summer is upon us, I can get downright romantic about New Jersey summers. There is a magic and a mystery and a majesty to these months in this quirky Mid-Atlantic state. Summer hits different here in New Jersey, and I mean that. I’ve spent enough summers living in other states to know.

My mind goes back to the summers in Rahway where I grew up. Summers were the sound of the mowing being done on the huge field in back of the middle school (what we called Green Fields) as I sat at my window on Kline place. That perfect sound was a symphony titled “All Is Right With The World.”

My dad and I used to grab baseball mitts and have a catch at least once or twice a week then we’d walk to the corner store and bring back those slushy Frozen Cokes and sit in the heat under a tree. I can absolutely taste it right now and hear the sound of his voice telling a story as the far-off traffic droned along Westfield Avenue.

Baseball in glove close-up
Jeffrey Hamilton

Where else but summer in New Jersey can you get the intoxicating sounds and smells of salt in the air and sunscreen, boardwalk food, the clicking of the game wheels, the voices of the barkers, the screams from the rides?

You can go to any other beach in the country and there is none like New Jersey’s. It’s a real IYKYK.

New Jersey Beaches And Boardwalks Start To Reopen Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Getty Images

The summer before my dad died I stayed at the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City in a beautiful room that looked out over the beach. Far off through the closed window, you could hear the ageless sound of children laughing and playing woven in with the never-ending surf. It was like a soundtrack for a brilliant film that would be called “Summers in New Jersey.”

Two months later when he died, I thought about those beautiful sounds from the beach and how eternal they are. The sound of the waves and the sound of children playing and laughing when it’s distant enough that you can’t discern the language. Those sounds will always be the same 500 years ago or 500 years from now. And I wished he could have heard the peace it brought before he passed.

Pearl Beach (KC/Google Maps)
Pearl Beach (KC/Google Maps)

Going “down the shore.” The mix tapes we used to play in our cars on the Parkway. The smell of cut grass in the Jersey suburbs.

The misters to cool off at the Turtle Back Zoo. The Italian ices. The smell of the concrete in Elizabeth after it’s been over 100 most of the day. The picnic where you’d sneak in a mini-wine to the public park. Stepping out of the air conditioning at Butch Kowal’s into the wall of heat in the parking lot. The sound of crickets in late summer as you chased lightning bugs in your backyard staying up way later than you could on a school night.

There is nothing like summertime in New Jersey. Enjoy this one.

Olena Palaguta
Olena Palaguta

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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On Demand! Hear New Jersey’s favorite afternoon radio show any day of the week. Download the Deminski & Doyle show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen right now.

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