BRICK – There could be record crowds on township beaches this summer since COVID-19 restrictions are lifting and people have been in lockdown for a year, said Director of Recreation Dan Santaniello.
“And also, there isn’t one rental in Ocean and Monmouth Counties that has a vacancy,” he said. “There are no houses for sale in any shore area. You can’t find a home that’s on the market for longer than a week before it’s sold.”
Finding a full complement of lifeguards and badge checkers was a challenge this year, he said. In the past, lifeguard tryouts took place in one day, but this year there were multiple tryouts in order to cater to the applicants’ schedules, he said.
“Some kids couldn’t make that first date, so I would set a second date, and there were kids that couldn’t make that second date,” Santaniello said. “We actually ended up having four tryouts.”
The department hired more part-time lifeguards than ever before in order to accommodate individual scheduling needs of the applicants, he said.
Santaniello said that 63 full-time lifeguards are needed, but because of the part-timers, there are 68 on the roster. About 40 are returning from last year.
A minimum of 18 badge checkers are needed. 22 have been hired since a few of those are also part-timers, he said. 11 are returning from last year.
Long time beach captain Donovan Brown will be returning, which is a good thing “since he knows all the ins and outs,” Santaniello said.
“He knows all the traditions – we’re a very strict beach, when it comes to watching the water, and with the numbers we’re hearing now from USLA (United States Lifesaving Association) and Joint Insurance Fund NJ, they expect all of the Jersey Shore to have record crowds this year.”
Santaniello said he believes weekends will be the downtime on the beaches, with Monday through Friday showing record numbers that have never been seen before.
The township beaches have recovered from the winter nor’easters thanks to the Brick Department of Public Works, Donovan Brown and a couple of the lifeguards who got the beaches back in shape.
“I think we came out on the top out of all the beaches that I’ve seen up and down the Jersey coast,” he said. “We’re in tiptop shape – you would never know we had a pretty horrible winter with all the nor’easters.”
Brick public beaches open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. when the lifeguards are on their stands. They start clearing the water at 5 p.m. which takes about 15 minutes to get everyone out.
Beaches are open on weekends only until June 14, when they open seven days a week.
August is tough because so many of the lifeguards go back to school, so the remaining lifeguards typically put in some overtime, unless they are younger than 18 since they are not allowed to work more than 40 hours a week.
Season badges may be purchased at the Recreation Office at the Civic Plaza, or they may be purchased at the beach.
“It’s going to be an interesting year, but we’re ready for it,” Santaniello said. I’m hoping for a safe and successful summer.”