BELMAR, NJ — For visitors arriving early to Belmar’s beach yesterday, it was not a mirage caused by the heat. Those were two “astronauts” walking along the boardwalk, holding American flags, pulling along coolers — and handing out moon pies.

Photographer Nancy Orlowski snapped photos of the unidentified men, who were commemorating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — a well-timed bit of humor with a patriotic twist on the hottest day of the year, so far.

As the excessive heat brought a larger-than-average crowd to Belmar’s 1.3-mile oceanfront on July 20, its beach staff and lifeguard patrol kicked into high gear their efforts to handle the influx of visitors. And except for instances of lost children and several heat-related medical emergencies, handled by the Belmar First Aid Squad, the only news of the day was the heat.

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“People were here early and I'm sure will stay late. The water has been calm and warm. I expect (Sunday) to be the same,” said chief lifeguard Harry Harsin, who had 65 lifeguards on duty with all stands up.

In addition, Belmar’s beach staff, which includes ticket booth, gate and restroom attendants, totaled another 40 employees, who also kept quite busy under the seering sun.

To show their appreciation to the staff, Mayor Mark Walsifer and Councilman James McCracken filled coolers with bottled waters and ice, loaded them into a golf cart and hand-delivered them to employees at all beach entrances.

“We’re out here delivering water to make sure everyone is hydrated, and everyone is staying safe today,” said Mayor Walsifer in a video on the Belmar Facebook page.

“It was hot out there, but everyone was so positive, and they really appreciated it,” McCracken said. “It gave us the opportunity to ask how the summer’s been going and the beachfront is operating.

“In a town like Belmar, everyone has to work together because we’re all in this for the same reason — to try to make the town better to live in and to visit,” he added.

Meanwhile, a cooling center for Belmar and Lake Como residents is in operation at the Belmar Municipal Gymnasium, 601 Main Street. There is also a secondary location at the Belmar Public Library at 517 10th Avenue. Water is available at both air-conditioned facilities.

An excessive heat warning issued by the National Weather Service will remain in effect until 10 p.m. today, July 21. The most dangerous heat and humidity — resulting in a heat index value of up to 102 degrees — will occur from mid-afternoon into the early evening. There is a low risk of rip currents and an extremely high UV index from the sun, and the water temperature is between 72 and 74 degrees.

The excessive heat and humidity may cause heat stress or heat stroke. The most susceptible individuals are the elderly and those with pre-existing health issues. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency; call 911.

The National Weather Service advises individuals to take extra precautions if they work or will be spending time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to the early morning or the late evening. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing. Drink plenty of water.

Young children and pets should never be left unattended in a vehicle under any circumstance. This is especially true during hot weather when a car`s interior can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes. Also, remember to check on elderly relatives and neighbors.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service:

Today

Sunny, with a high near 92. Heat index values as high as 102. West wind around 9 mph.

A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds and heavy rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 76. West wind 5 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
 
Monday
A flash flood watch will take effect in the morning, with the chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 8 a.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 86. East wind 3 to 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
 
Monday night
Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Low around 72. Light and variable wind becoming southwest around 5 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
 
Tuesday
Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm before 2 p.m., then a chance of showers. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Cloudy, with a high near 80. North wind 7 to 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.
 
Tuesday night
A chance of showers before 2 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 68. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

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