08 • 24 • 2022

Jersey Shore’s Family Day at the Beach

By Surfrider Foundation

On Saturday, July 30, Surfrider’s Jersey Shore Chapter held its 16th annual Family Day at the Beach in Asbury Park, N.J. It's an afternoon full of fun for families in Asbury Park with free access to the beach and a lineup of activities for the kids, including surf lessons, beach volleyball, an educational beach scavenger hunt, water safety instruction, arts and crafts and live music.

The key word here is “free.” At most beaches on the Jersey Shore, people have to pay to go sit on the sand during the summer. This means that many families who live in a shore town don't actually go to the beach. That's especially the case in Asbury Park where there is a high rate of poverty. Family Day is a day when the beach is truly open for all, and it's a blast. It's a joyous sight to see kids, who don't regularly go to the beach, search for mole crabs and surf clams and excitedly show what they have found. It's also amazing to see them get up on a surfboard for the first time.

Family Day started as a way to give back to the City of Asbury Park when, in the early 2000s, the city made surfing legal thanks to a campaign that the Jersey Shore chapter ran. It was totally illegal until then—no surfing at any time! In the process of the campaign to make surfing legal, the chapter realized that there was a whole generation of kids who were never even encouraged to go to the beach. The chapter aimed to change this by working with the city's lifeguards, Recreation Department, the local Boys and Girls Club, and other groups, to bring kids from the area and their families to the beach. Thus, Family Day was born.

Family Day is truly a community effort. The Jersey Shore Chapter spearheads the day but many other organizations and groups, in particular the Mayor's Wellness Committee, make it happen. Summertime Surf and the Asbury Park Surf Club provide the free surf lessons, and Belmar Beach Volleyball comes up to Asbury Park for the afternoon. For food, Langosta Lounge, an Ocean Friendly Restaurant, bakes delicious brownies, Jones Bars donate their locally made energy bars, and Luigi's of Ocean delivers excellent Jersey pizza. Other supporters include Wegmans of Ocean and the Asbury Park Department of Public Works.

Photo Credit: Michael McKenna