Maria and David Ricci, of Vineland, and their 8-year-old son, Vincenzo, spend a relaxing Mother’s Day at the Ocean City beach on the first full day people could have access since the prolonged COVID-19 closure restriction. By MADDY VITALEMaria Ricci said coming down to Ocean City to enjoy the beach with her husband, Dave, and their 8-year-old son, Vincenzo, was particularly special on Sunday.It wasn’t just that it was Mother’s Day, but it was that the beaches in the community, were just reopened the day before, after some of the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.The Riccis, who are from Vineland and have a vacation home on the Ocean City bay, were also delighted to take their boat out.“We are excited to be on the beach. This is definitely the best Mother’s Day. The sun is shining. It is a wonderful day,” Maria, a teacher, said.For Vincenzo, it was also a way to get out in the fresh air, on a breezy day in the upper 50s to low 60s.“Even if we can’t use all of the amenities because a lot is still closed, at least Vincenzo is out and not on an Ipad,” David Ricci, a firefighter in Vineland said. “We can go out for a drive together to Ocean City. We are safe. You couldn’t ask for a better day.”The Riccis were like so many other families who took advantage of the soft-opening of Ocean City on Sunday. Neighboring towns, such as Sea Isle City and Upper Township, also opened this weekend.The Boardwalk was still officially closed Sunday, and was only to be used as an access to the beaches. Walking, jogging, surfing, and fishing are permitted but no sunbathing, or large gatherings. Ocean City Community Policing Unit Officers Tim Sharpe, left, and Doug Swillo practice social distancing while on patrol.Ocean City police officers from the Community Policing Unit rode their bicycles and some of them patrolled on foot up and down the Boardwalk to make sure people were abiding by the rules. Most people appeared to either wear face masks and use social distancing or just stayed at least six feet away from them and other strollers.“We are hoping people are enjoying themselves and maintaining social distancing,” said Lt. Pat Randles, who is also in charge of public relations for the department. “The Boardwalk is officially closed and only to be used for beach access. Just like Mayor (Jay) Gillian, we want everyone to enjoy themselves, but follow the rules.”Lindy Shields, of Pittman, her husband Joe, and their four children, Chloe, 16, Caroline, 13, Bray, 5, and 4-year-old Lyndia, decided to head to Ocean City for the day.“We always come for Mother’s Day. I said, ‘Let’s go to the Ocean City beach for the day it is open’,” Lindy said with a big smile. “We already bought our ride tickets online for when the amusement parks open back up.”Joe said he wanted to give his wife what she wanted on Mother’s Day. “She said that she wanted to do this today, so here we are,” he noted.For Chloe and Caroline, it meant a day off of the electronic devices, no virtual school for the day and time with family having fun.“I’m so glad our family is so close,” said Chloe. “It helps a lot with everything right now.”“The fun is that we are all out of the house together,” added Caroline.The Shields family, of Pittman, from left, Chloe, 16, Lydia, 4, Caroline, 13, parents Lindy and Joe and 5-year-old Bray make it a fun day.While dogs are not permitted on the Boardwalk, Brooke Catinella, of Ocean City, and her husband, Dan, enjoyed a strolled up to the entrance of the Boardwalk, just to take a look, with their dog, Chewy, to tell family that the beaches are now open.“It is exciting to see that things are opening up,” said Brooke.“I think it is the right thing to do,” said Dan. “You have to let people be able to go out and enjoy themselves, as long as they use social distancing.”In addition to the beaches, the Route 52 Causeway shared-use path is also open.On Sunday, joggers and strollers bundled up and relished the opening of the path for exercise and family time.For more information, visit the Ocean City coronavirus page at http://www.ocnj.us/covid19/Brooke and Dan Catinella, of Ocean City, with their dog, Chewy.People have their beach time, while also maintaining social distancing.Kristin Zielinski and Dustin Valway and his son, Christopher, all of Pennsylvania, decided to come down to check out the beach and spend a beautiful Mother’s Day together.