Messiano is among those who have reopened summer homes or checked into bed-and-breakfasts, hotels and motels to stay at the Shore in recent weeks.
Some hostelries report that occupancy rates are double and triple the norm for this time of the year. Others say they are completely booked.
"Normally, we'd go up to the Poconos a couple of times over the winter, but this year we're down here instead," said Dina Ryan, 46, of Medford, who has a summer home in Ocean City. "I played miniature golf this past weekend here on the boardwalk one day, and then we had to wait in line for dinner at a restaurant in Atlantic City the next night. And it's January. It's crazy."
Unseasonably mild weather, with temperatures mostly in the 50s and as high as 70, has created a tourist mini-boom at the Shore that has some vacation marketers already gearing up for next year.
"We've had a tremendous amount of visitors this winter, probably more than we've ever had this time of the year," said Diane Wieland, executive director of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce. "And this could mean that, since so many people are actually seeing how much we have to offer here at the Shore in the wintertime, they'll make a point of coming back next year."
Making tourists believe that the Shore is a great place to go in the off-season has long been the goal of groups like Wieland's and the operators of hotels, motels, amusements, restaurants and stores up and down the coast.
"We're open every day of the year, and this winter a lot of people have actually taken advantage of that fact," said Dominic Rosselli, parks director at the Cape May County Zoo.
In the dead of winter, when many of the animals won't venture too far from their indoor habitats, the zoo usually sees about 500 visitors between December and March. But this winter, the zoo has had single days - like a recent Saturday of nearly 70 degrees - when more than 1,000 people have come through its turnstile, Rosselli said.
"It's been good for the animals, too, to have so many visitors and be able to go outside more in the nice weather," he said.
The region's myriad golf courses have also benefited.
"The good weather has just brought more people out who want to take advantage of it," said Dennis Jones, assistant golf pro at Avalon Country Club, where tee times have been tough to come by on some recent days. "It's been great."
For proprietors, the warmer weather means a chance to make up for a less-than-stellar summer or add extra black ink to the bottom line. Many businesses, however, with owners out of town or not in a position to reopen on the spur of the moment, remain closed.
"But there are still plenty of things open, and this weekend we're completely full except for one room, which I'm sure will end up being booked," said Laurie Schenerman, assistant manager of the 32-room Queen Victoria Inn in Cape May. "This is a time of the year when we are usually lucky if we are half full."
The abundance of visitors leaves some year-round residents with mixed feelings.
"I kind of like solitude the off-season," said Debbie Martin, a retired teacher who has lived in Ocean City for 25 years. "It's a good contrast to the summertime, when there are too many people around. But in another way, I don't mind a few more people being here because sometimes the winters get a little too quiet."
Visitors seem to be turning what would have been only quick day trips into overnights this winter, Schenerman and others said. "And then they get here and it's so nice, they end up staying for two or three nights," Schenerman said.
"We've even found sand on the floor in the rooms, which means people are going on the beach in January. And that is something that never happens."
Another rarity is seeing the Wildwood boardwalk packed with people in January. "And they've been wearing shorts," said a surprised Angel Daniels, public-relations manager for Morey's Piers. "You almost never see that."
And while Morey's won't reopen until spring, Daniels said the weather this winter had the people who run the Ferris wheels and Tilt-a-Whirls talking about how to cash in next year.
"Besides the summer, we've always concentrated on the shoulder seasons, fall and spring, to get tourists in," Daniels said. "Now we may have look at winter as a viable time, as well."
At Kohr Bros. at Moorlyn Terrace and the boardwalk in Ocean City, they've already started.
"We have a relative down there who decides whether to open on any given day based on the weather, and he can have things up and running and product being made pretty quickly," said Randy Kohr, whose family has operated the East Coast frozen-custard chain since 1919.
"And we've had a lot of nice weather this year, so we've enjoyed being able to open up and give our customers a taste of summer in the winter."
Contact staff writer Jacqueline L. Urgo at 609-823-9629 or email@example.com.