Memorial Day is five weeks from today and if it’s sunny and warm many will head to the beach. That is if the beach they usually go to is open. 

Beach Patrol captains (back left to right) Bob Tormollan (Lavallette), Rob Connor (Seaside Heights), Joe Gomulka (Seaside Park)
and Pete Busch (Ortley Beach). Front is Seaside Heights Beach Supervisor Jay Boyd. (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

Officials in shore towns have for the most part expressed optimism that their beaches will be ready for summer visitor but privately many themselves are not sure if they’ll be open by Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer season.  Many beaches remain closed as I speak so even if temperatures all of a sudden soared into the 80’s you might not be able to set down a chair and blanket.

There are still so many questions that have not been answered about clean-up and dune restoration and much more.  Throw in the fact that Sandy did quite a bit of damage to lifeguard and beach headquarters and many towns suffered significant losses when it comes to what they need to keep swimmers safe.

Fast forward to last night when hundreds of people came to show their support for the beach patrols in Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, Lavallette and Ortley Beach.

The Tuscan Bistro and Bar in Toms River hosted the “Saving Our Lifeguards” fundraiser in partnership with Hometown Heroes and the turnout was overwhelming.  I ran into people I had not seen in years and in some cases decades as the beach draws so many of us together here at the shore. Beach Patrol captains Rob Connor of Seaside Heights, Joe Gomulka of Seaside Park, Bob Tormollan of Lavallette and Pete Busch of Ortley Beach were all in attendance and appreciative of the support they received.

Of course you could not have a lifeguard event without the Boyd Family on hand and there were many including Jay who is now Beach Supervisor in Seaside Heights.  His father and uncles ran the beaches for decades there with an iron fist and many of the veteran and retired guards on hand last night could be heard telling stories about Captain John, Junie and Joe.  I was thrilled to be in the company of the oldest guard in attendance. My father Jim who began as a guard in Long Island in 1948 before a long association with the Seaside Heights Beach Patrol.

The proceeds from the event will go to Hometown Heroes who will use the funds to purchase equipment and other needs of the four beach patrols, much of which was damaged or destroyed by Sandy.  Special thanks needs to go to the Tuscan Bistro & Bar who not only came up with the idea of the lifeguard fundraiser but did a fabulous job of hosting the event and bringing together hundreds of people with a common love, the beach!