The "summer nights" immortalized in "Grease" are a perennial part of the beach experience. Shore romances are often fleeting, but a lucky few couples make that love last. These local husbands and wives wax nostalgic about those moments in the sun.
Stacy, 54, and Seamus "Shay" Mulcare, 52
For Seamus Mulcare, it was love at first sight. For his now-wife Stacy, it was more of a slow burn.
In May 1987 after she graduated from college, Stacy Mulcare said, she started working as a waitress at Fager's Island, a waterfront restaurant in Ocean City where Seamus (better known as Shay) worked as a day kitchen manager. When Shay first spotted Stacy before her night shift, he said, he stopped in his tracks.
"I literally just froze. … I couldn't move," he said. "I just pulled my sunglasses down, and I was just staring at her. She never looked up from her People magazine."
Shay said his friend quickly pulled him up by his backpack to keep him from staring, but it was too late. Shay was already infatuated, and he spent the next few months trying to get Stacy to give him the time of day. He said he knew she was the one.
"I can't describe it. It was just like everything stopped. It was like 'Hello! There you are. Where have you been?' " he said.
Just weeks after meeting her, Shay invited Stacy on a sunset sail, where he dropped down on one knee and proposed. Stacy said she was shocked and embarrassed.
"Everybody was looking at me. I didn't want to embarrass him by saying no, but at the same time, I was like, 'Get up!' " Stacy said, adding that the then-lovesick Shay also wrote vows in the boat captain's logbook.
"She didn't answer. I took that as not a no," Shay said with a laugh. But something about his relentless approach must have worked.
Before their official first date, Stacy shared with Shay her dream of moving to a Caribbean island. "If you want to come along, I'm going either way, so you're going to have to decide if this is going to work for you or not," she remembered saying.
Their first dinner date was followed by hours of conversation over a six-pack of Foster's Lagers by the beach. The two have been together nearly every day since. Shay proposed again in 1991 (Stacy said yes!) and the two wed in Baltimore County in 1992.
After an unbearably cold night in 1993, the couple decided they would split for St. John in the Virgin Islands with just $700 between them and relocated there the next year.
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"We didn't know anybody, and we didn't have jobs," Stacy said. "Today, I'd be a nervous wreck to live off of that and find a place, but it worked."
There, the Mulcares launched their own businesses — Stacy a wedding planning firm and Shay a private chef service — and the couple quickly fell in love with the easy lifestyle of beach living, the smell of the salt water, the serenity of the sunsets and the sound of the ocean waves of St. John, where they lived for more than 20 years.
They were forced to evacuate after the island was devastated by hurricanes in September. The couple, who said they lost everything, relocated to the Lutherville area while they figure out their next step. Stacy said she misses the beach every day.
"I think it makes me very calm. … I feel the closest to God when I'm at the beach. When I'm watching a sunset and the blue Caribbean water and the soft breeze, I just think, 'It can't be any more perfect than it is right now,' " she said.
"Why would you live anywhere else … if you can live at the beach?"
Kristin, 31, and Alexander Barge, 35
Before Kristin and Alexander Barge ever met, their co-workers at Shark's Cove Marina in Fenwick Island, Del., were offering to set them up, Kristin said.
"I always heard of this Alex guy being a good hard worker," Kristin said of her now-husband, who was away at Army training at the time. She had started working at the watersports and rental venue after graduating from high school and become interested in another guy working there. But when Alex returned for work in 2006, he swooped in and she gave him a chance, she said.
Though their long work days didn't allow for much downtime, the two still found time to flirt, spend some hours at the beach, ride watercraft and hit up the boardwalk, Kristin said.
"Everyone was like, 'It's a summer love. That won't last,' " said Kristin, who was living in Havre de Grace and attending Towson University at the time. Alex was living closer to Silver Spring.
"It was summer lust at first. Then we found a lot of commonalities between each other, and just stuck it out," Alex said.
The Port Deposit couple have been married for more than seven years and have two boys, ages 2 and 4, and a third child due in June.
"We would have never met otherwise, if it wasn't working for the marina down at the beach," said Kristin, adding that she and her husband are still in contact with the owners of the marina.
"We [joked] that they were going to start a Shark's Cove dating service," Kristin said.
Kaylie, 26, and Ray Mikkonen, 25
Kaylie and Ray Mikkonen call themselves "almost-high school sweethearts."
The two had gone to North Harford High School in Pylesville together but never formally met before a post-graduation Ocean City vacation.
Kaylie said she had known of Ray, but when a friend introduced them, Ray didn't remember her at all.
"I was like, 'Ray, we literally just graduated with each other!' so he was embarrassed," Kaylie said, adding that her now-husband nervously shook her hand during the entire encounter.
Kaylie gave Ray her number, and the two met up around a month later. They hit it off.
"We were just really comfortable with each other right away. We're really [silly] around each other," Kaylie said.
"She was cute," Ray added.
In 2016, Ray took Kaylie back to the same spot on Talbot Street where they had met, and he proposed. The two married on April 13 in Taneytown. The wedding included sand collected from the Ocean City boardwalk.
Today, Ocean City has become a part of their yearly tradition. The newlyweds visit the same spot where they met and Ray proposed on their dating anniversary, often with an added tradition — ice cream.
"It was my tradition before I met him," Kaylie said. "And now, it's a little extra special."