May is finally upon us and the Jersey Shore beckons. Thoughts turn to summer and just how to shed those extra winter pounds before the high season arrives.

But before you start counting down on your calendar, you may want to head to Ocean City.

New Jersey's twist on Groundhog Day kicks off the month, when presumably the most famous hermit crab on the planet, Martin Z. Mollusk, predicts whether or not summer will arrive early. If Martin sees his shadow, summer is believed to arrive one week ahead of time.

In 39 years worth of predictions, the tiny weather forecaster has seen his full shadow all but once. Will this year's crazy long winter effect his prognostication? Will there be a few less days to get bikini ready?

Unlike Punxsutawney Phil, who projects his seasonal outlook near dawn, Martin Z. Mollusk likes to sleep in. The late morning ceremony will again feature special guests like Shelley the Mermaid, Fantastic Ocean City Fish - the only wind chime band in the world, and Big Mama Llama (who with a shake of her head proclaims whether Martin has seen his shadow). All present will be encouraged to join in a sing-a-long of "Some Enchanted Morning". Thursday, May 1, 11 a.m. - 9th Street Beach, Ocean City,N.J.

Spring festivals

Later on in the weekend, those in Ocean City can put aside thoughts of summer and enjoy the current season with the town's Spring Block Party. There will be more than 350 crafters, food vendors and live musicians on hand. Most downtown shops will be also open for business. It's the 31st year for the mile-long fete. Saturday, May 3, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Asbury Avenue, between 5th and 14th streets, Ocean City, N.J.

While fresh, locally caught seafood is popular year-round, nothing beats dining on catches of the day outdoors in warmer weather.

Stone Harbor will ring in May by hosting its annual Seafood Festival. The eats event is partnered with a celebration of the Kentucky Derby. Festival-goers can watch the "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports" and take part in a decorated derby hat contest. There will be a clam pitching tournament, activities for the kids and live music performance by the Mighty Parrot Band. Attendees can pair tasty ocean fare with libations from the Chamber of Commerce's beer and wine garden. Saturday, May 3, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. - Downtown 96th Street, Stone Harbor.

Spring cleaning

Pitch in and help get the Jersey Shore ready for the upcoming high season by joining the 16th annual Jersey Cares Day on Saturday, May 3 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.. Thousands of volunteers will participate in the statewide "serve-a-thon" with revitalization and beautification projects. While some of the shore region volunteer sites are at capacity, there is still room to serve in Surf City and along Long Beach Island.

In Surf City, volunteers are needed to spruce up the town's Borough Hall by gardening around the beach badge house, planting dune grass and performing a beach sweep. Volunteers are also still needed to help with beach sweeping along Long Beach Island's 18 miles of sandy shore.

The event is rain or shine and registration deadline for service is May 2. For more information and to register: jerseycaresday.org

Ye olde New Jersey

The first weekend in May is a good time to learn more about New Jersey history and perfect for celebrating the state's 350th anniversary this year.

Monmouth County will be hosting its annual Old Monmouth Weekend on May 3-4. Numerous historical sites through-out the county will be opening their doors to welcome visitors free of charge.

Along the Atlantic, history buffs can check out Ocean Grove's Centennial Cottage and Great Auditorium, St. Catharine's Church in Spring Lake and the National Guard Militia Museum in Sea Girt. Just inland, families can take in a bit of yesteryear by visiting Allaire Historic Village, InfoAge Science Center (formerly Camp Evans) and the Old Wall Historical Society in Wall Township.

Further south, the New Jersey Historical Commission will be presenting a panel of leading archaeologists and historians to talk about New Jersey: A History of the Garden State, a book which examines the state's history from the prehistoric era to present day. Featured speakers will include the book's editors and contributors, historian Maxine Lurie, PhD.; Richard Veit, Professor of Anthropology at Monmouth University; Howard Gillette, Professor of History Emeritus at Rutgers University-Camden and a NewsWorks contributing writer; Graham Hodges, Professor of History and Africana Studies at Colgate University.

The panel will take place at the May's Landing branch of the Atlantic County Library on Friday, May 2, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. May's Landing Branch Library, 40 Farragut Avenue, May's Landing, (609) 625-2776.

Registration is required

Special shore traffic advisory:

Structural repairs on the Townsend Inlet Bridge between Sea Isle City and Avalon are expected to be finished and the bridge reopened to traffic by April 30. The bridge has been closed since February.

Construction is still ongoing along Route 35, but the good news is that work will largely be suspended for the summer beginning Thurs, May 22 ahead of Memorial Day We

_____________________________________________________

Check out WHYY's Weekly Entertainment Guide to see what's happening throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey.