Absent is the din of amusement park rides, the murmur of countless conversations and the wafting odor of french fries and fried dough. In its place are the sound of a constant wind, the creaking of dismantled amusement rides and the unbroken rhythm of waves crashing against the shore and through the pilings of The Pier.

This is Old Orchard Beach in the off-season. The beach, The Pier and Palace Playland are in a state of hibernation.

A thick coat of snow covers the miles of sand that lure tourists to this place when it comes to life in warmer months. Ice coats the pilings of The Pier and marks the edge of the waterline along the shore. The doors of the arcade, carousel and games of Palace Playland are shuttered. Sea gulls fight over the few scraps of food to be found.

But like summer, this dormant season is temporary. The snow will melt and the sand will begin to soften. Sea gulls will again locate their favorite food source – fries from tourists. And locals will again have to navigate a sea of blankets and umbrellas to reach the ocean.

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