M – Do you love the new look of Hampton Beach, complete with new band shell and changing rooms?
As much as I love the stretch of sandy serenity, my favorite part of the Hampton Beach experience is Ocean Boulevard, which teems with an endless variety of walkers that come out before the sun goes down every night.
The smells of fried dough, coffee and pizza swirl together and follow you while you stroll past people who red wear t-shirts that say, “I put ketchup on my ketchup.” That’s a snapshot of my Saturday night recently just before a show at the Casino Ballroom. Hampton Beach. A Petri dish of cultures that I can’t resist.
A year ago, Bedford native and now head writer for Saturday Night Live, Seth Meyers, who admitted he hadn’t been to the beach in 20 years, opened with, “I love what you haven’t done with the place.” Can’t do THAT joke anymore, Seth.
I was surprised at the number of people on the sidewalk blowing into their three dollar plastic vuvezela horns that became famous during theWorld Cup soccer games. The sound they make is not unlike the one made by a rhino backing into a hornet’s nest. This could’ve been Mardi Gras minus the beads and feathered eye masks.
Perhaps my favorite moment came just before dusk. Three people carrying a cooler accidentally dumped a pile of ice cubes onto the sand as they hustled toward the street. The odd sight of ice on the beach drew a quick flock of seagulls and a three-year old girl. The child stared at the ice and called her mother to have a look.
“I thought it was a dead pigeon,” a relieved mom told me as she collected her kid. Just as soon as the girl left, the seagulls convened. They picked and pecked, I suppose, hoping to find a morsel of frozen sushi. Or a corn dog. Disappointed, they squawked and scattered to the sky.
My evening ended by talking with a woman who was lugging a bright blue stuffed gorilla that appeared to be half her size. I asked if her trophy resulted from a big night playing Skee ball. “No, I bought it,” was her answer. She paid $18, which is a great price when you consider most people spend five times that amount trying to win a stuffed animal.
Where else could I find such rich encounters? And the price? Dinner at Ron’s Landing: $88.00. A pile of sandy ice cubes and a blue ape: Priceless. Welcome to HamptonBeach.