By Lori Draz
On June 6, a picture-perfect Monday evening, a lively group of concerned citizens made their way to Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook to join in the fun of The Jersey Shore Partnership’s (JSP) Summer Celebration. This was an especially significant event, as the organization was celebrating its 25th year as New Jersey’s leading advocate for efforts to restore and replenish the 127 miles of New Jersey coastline that give back so much to the state, through tourism, industry, and good old-fashioned days at the beach. The Summer Celebration is the JSP’s main fundraiser of the year.
The Summer Celebration event brings together over 20 of the state’s best chefs and restaurants, and seafood is the main menu item. From the ever-popular lobsters from Lusty Lobster and prepared by Bahrs/Moby’s to the shucked-on-site raw bar, the chefs put on a masterful show, working with seafood donated by Wakefern and fisheries along the Jersey Coast and Delaware Bay area. The donations promote the exquisite quality of New Jersey seafood and their importance to the state’s economy and quality of life.
Given the legislative impact of the JSP, the event is attended by an intriguing mix of politicians, including the mayors of Rumson, Middletown, and other shore towns, industry and corporate leaders, naturalists, and foodies. The non-stop evening included awards to the Partnership founders, including the four shore county freeholders and the companies that served as the initial board of directors and have continued their support over the past 25 years. Music and dancing, provided by Brian Kirk and the Jirks, was set against the breathtaking backdrop of a sunset over the bay. If you love the shore or seafood, this is a night worth blocking out on next year’s calendar.
The Partnership’s first successful advocacy effort resulted in the enactment of an annual $15 million beach protection fund, the first such legislation to be passed in the nation due to the leadership of Senators Joseph Kyrillos and William Gormley. A few years later, that amount was increased to $25 million, where it stands today. This funding commitment, matched by federal dollars, has enabled the state to safeguard its shoreline through beach restoration, renourishment, and ongoing maintenance management since the early ‘90s.
If you would like to get involved in the advocacy efforts as a member or supporter of the Partnership’s petition to increase funding for shore protection, visit www.jerseyshorepartnership.com or to get more information, contact Margot Walsh, executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.jerseyshorepartnership.com.