OCEAN GATE – Summer weather. The beach. Friends and family. What better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the town than to enjoy everything that made it so great all these years?
People filled the beach, pier, and nearby streets for Ocean Gate Day, an annual celebration. This year, it was a little more special, since it marked the 100th anniversary of the borough. It seceded from Berkeley Township in 1918, becoming its own municipality.
This point was driven home by a bus tour that circulated through the borough, pointing out key historical spots. Much has changed since then. The old ice cream shop was now someone’s home, but they played along by having ice cream there.
Steve Larwa’s family had been coming here since 1958. He started as a summer resident, but now he’s here full time. He said some things never change.
“It’s like all my family and friends grew up down here and they all retired down here,” he said.
The only big change in the borough was when Superstorm Sandy blew through, he said. So many people had to rebuild.
The borough still brings new people in, though.
Wayne Moya just moved to Ocean Gate in May. He was competing in the Cardboard Boat Race, a locally famous annual event. His boat was called “Paddle N Go.”
He said he was surprised when he heard about the race, but intrigued. He then learned about how to make a cardboard boat from YouTube videos.
The Wildwood Avenue Pier was full of people watching the race, and cheering on the racers as they paddled by.
Most of the action of Ocean Gate Day was focused around the pier and beach, near the splash pad. There were food vendors selling a variety of easy-to-carry fair food like cheesesteaks and wraps. Rows of tents housed people selling items or offering crafts to kids. While some vendors sold jewelry, art, or toys, there were also some that sold beach stuff and convenience items, given that, even today, some residents are just here for the summer season.