All they heard from the street was the pounding of the surf.
As the Point Borough High School students waited quietly in a long line to climb the stairs to the beach Monday night, they only heard the ocean crashing on the shore and their own whispers.
But once they got to the top of the staircase, they could hear another sound, carried through the fog, past the lit candles lining the banisters and surrounding the portrait of Jordan Calabrese on a table on the wooden platform.
It was the sound of a girl crying. Just one at first, and then a few more, and then, it seemed, as more students pressed onto the sand, the sound of sobbing came from every pocket of students in the crowd of hundreds.
Some of Jordan's friends walked up to look at her portrait and the photographs of family and friends around it.
But one girl with long, straight, blond hair couldn't go near the table of photographs and candles. Weeping, she turned her eyes away and walked on the beach.
As their shoes started sinking in the sand, kids hugged, shared memories, told funny stories, and cried some more.
"She was the strongest, happiest person I know," said Lauren Hart, one of Jordan's closest friends, as a boy walked up and hugged her.
Hart, who said she had been close friends with Jordan since sixth grade, looked longingly at a second display of photos of Jordan and her family and friends, spread out on the sand.
This was a candlelight vigil for an 18-year-old high school senior whose life ended before she even got to go to her senior prom or high school graduation.
Jordan worked Saturday at D. Monaco Designs on Arnold Avenue in Point Beach and went to a party with her friends at a house in Point Beach that night.
She suffered some type of medical problem that caused her to be rushed by ambulance to Ocean Medical Center in Brick, where she was pronounced dead sometime during the early morning hours on Sunday, said Michel Paulhus, executive assistant Ocean County Prosecutor.
The cause of death is undetermined and the Ocean County Medical Examiner will do an autopsy, he said.
But the outcome of the autopsy won't change the painful reality for Jordan's family and friends.
"The light of her life was extinguished, but the memories still burn," said Ryan Pizzi, 17, as he waited in line on the street.
Ryan, a senior, said he didn't know Jordan well, but he came, with red roses, because the tragedy affected the entire senior class to the point where the atmosphere in the borough high school on Monday was somber.
"There's a void left in her absence," he said. "Even if you weren't good friends with her, it's just so hard, because we're all still a family.
"I have friends who had classes with her and they were sitting next to an empty chair today," Ryan said.
A friend walked up to Ryan and hugged him. They waited in line to make their way up the stairs to the beach.
On the beach, Shelbi Hilling, 18, and Jordan's other close friends, were trying to find words to say something, anything, to describe Jordan, to describe how they were feeling, to try to make each other believe it was going to be OK.
The girls were trying to find the right words to say in front of a crowd of hundreds surrounding a shrine of candles, photos and roses they had set up on the beach.
But it was just too hard.
Shelbi, sobbing, rushed up to her mother, Kim Hilling, saying, "I tried to talk, but the words just aren't coming out. Why don't you say something, Mom?"
"Just tell this reporter who set this all up today," Hilling said, referring to the massive display of candles, flowers and photo collages on the beach and the smaller arrangement at the top of the stairs.
At the sight of the reporter's notebook, Shelbi burst into tears and cried, "Mom, Jordan wanted to be a journalist. She'd come in with a notebook like that!"
Jordan had taken journalism classes and wrote for the high school newspaper, in addition to being a member of the Key Club and Italian club.
She also had a flair for interior design and had also imagined pursuing that as a career, Hilling said.
Shelbi then listed the names of Jordan's closest friends, Sofia and Giovanna Barba, Jaime Williams, Dylan Noel, Tori Kiefer, Taylor Johnstone, Lauren Hart and Jess Colon, who had gotten permission from the Bay Head police department on Sunday to have the vigil on the beach, who bought the candles, who told their story to O'Brien's Florist on Bridge Avenue in Point Borough and got a donation of six dozen roses.
After a few people spoke, Sofia Barba, one of Jordan's closest friends, became increasingly distraught, eventually dropping on her knees into the sand, sobbing and clutching her mother, Valerie Barba, who knelt with her.
Jessica Calabrese, Jordan's eighth-grade sister, also knelt on the sand, hugging Sofia and her mother.
Valerie Barba closed her eyes and listened intently as the high school show choir sang a hymn. Then she told the large group she was sure Jordan's spirit was with them.
"She is here with us tonight," Barba said. "Jordan was an angel here on Earth."
"She'd walk in and always give me a hug and kiss hello. She was a beautiful angel here on Earth and now she's an angel in Heaven.
"Her love is so great, she loves each one of you. I love you so much, Jordan."
Senior John Dunbar, 18, said he remembers being good friends with Jordan when MySpace was popular.
"She was cool enough to be in my top four," he said, making the crowd laugh.
"I'm gonna miss her a lot, and I wish I could tell her that right now," John said, looking down at the candles flickering in the sand.
John said later that he had been friends with Jordan since sixth grade.
"She was always cool, always funny, she always made me laugh," John said.
He said it was his birthday on Saturday, when Jordan was rushed to the hospital.
"I didn't want anyone to say happy birthday to me, I just wanted them to pray for Jordan," John said.
"She was a beautiful, young girl who meant a lot to a lot of people. She was a good friend. She changed my life because she was always there for me. She always cared about me and I always cared about her."
Hilling said many families in town had helped to raise $7,000 at a fundraiser at the local Moose Lodge on River Avenue for Jordan when she suffered bone cancer in her knee years ago.
Once she survived that, everyone thought she was going to be fine, Hilling said, sadly, holding her lit candle.
"She was such a great girl," Hilling said. "She could make anyone smile."
After a couple of hours, some of the students started slowly filtering off the beach, hoping they could leave a little bit of the pain behind, to sink into the sand, stretching into the pounding surf.