TOMS RIVER – Pirates paraded through Huddy Park to walk a fellow seafarer off the plank and into the Toms River. Though not before they merrily auctioned off his personal effects for small sums of the British currency quid.
The plank that the humiliated pirate was ushered off of was not a permanent fixture on Luker Bridge, but a hallmark of the Toms River Seaport Society’s Summer Festival.
The festival was the Seaport Society’s reentry into Toms River community events, which have only just resumed at an almost pre-pandemic pace this summer.
“This is our forty-fifth year,” Scott Johnston said. “And actually, I guess, forty-fourth,” he amended. Event co-chairs Johnston and George Corbeels, like many local event organizers, have been missing the joys of their summer tradition since 2019. Now, they will look to the summer of 2022 to celebrate 45 years of summer festivals.
Admission to the event was free of charge. Instead, the Seaport Society hoped to spark attendees’ interest in their organization and museum. They also aimed to increase membership at the Toms River Seaport Society and Maritime Museum, which is dedicated to preserving local maritime history, specifically in the Toms River and Barnegat Bay areas. This year’s event also marked the summer festival’s evolution from featuring only wooden boats to hosting wooden boats and vintage fiberglass boats.
“If we don’t have it,” Johnston said of the annual festival, “probably half of Toms River wouldn’t know we exist.”
The family-friendly event featured a workstation for children to build their own boats and sail them in a nearby pool. An abundance of boats, some for sale, were on display. The Vintage Automobile Museum of New Jersey was raffling off a Mustang. Maritime antiques and other goods were available for purchase from the Seaport Society.
Attendees also enjoyed food trucks and patronized and connected with local artisans, businesses and organizations. Of course, the Valhalla Pirates provided entertainment.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary was in attendance. Attendees could learn more about water safety, sign up for boating safety classes and more.
“We’re glad to be back,” Division Commander Terry Bearce said.
Also among the vendors were longtime hobbyists like Heinz Ricken, Club Director of the Scale Ship Modeler’s Association of North America. Ricken displayed several sleek, meticulously crafted scale ships. “It’s good to see people,” Ricken, who has been building scale ships for more than 50 years, said.
Arthur Strock brought his favorite boat that he’s recently built to the festival. Strock mirrored a tried-and-true English design for the polished wooden sailboat on display. The design, Strock said, was originally done by renowned boat and canoe designer Percy Blandford. Strock has been building boats since he was 28 years old. “And now I’m 81,” he said.
Anyone can become a member to the Seaport Society and Maritime Museum. The Seaport Society also accepts volunteers and donations. To learn more, visit their website at tomsriverseaport.org or call 732-349-9209. The Maritime Museum is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The museum is located at 78 East Water Street, Toms River, New Jersey.