By DON STINE
It was Neptune versus Asbury Park during the annual Swan Versus Dragon pedal boat race on Wesley Lake, which borders both municipalities.
The annual race, sponsored by the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce, for the first time brought in an opposing team from another town- Neptune.
“We are gonna win. I am confident in our team and we are ready to go. We’re here and we’re the winning team,” Neptune Mayor Michael Brantley said.
But Asbury Park officials said not so fast.
“I have confidence we will go out with a win. This is a friendly competition but it is still for bragging rights,” Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Sue Henderson said.
Henderson said Ocean Grove and Asbury Park have always been sister cities and that the competition should be a lot of fun.
In the first heat, Henderson and City Manager Jack Kelly got off to a slow start that only got worse as Neptune Mayor Michael Brantley and Business Administrator Vito Gadaleta pulled ahead.
One boat length led to another as Neptune outdistanced Asbury Park and there was at least a four boat-length distance between the rivals at the end of the course.
In the end, after three heats, Neptune (The Dragons) ruled the day with two wins and one tie.
“Team Neptune was a worthy and gracious opponent,” said Jackie Pappas, executive director of the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce. “They brought their A-game, their sense of humor and a great sense of community. The Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce looks forward to taking back the title next year! And a huge thank you to Asbury Park Pedal boats for sponsoring the race and to all the fans that come out each year.”
Linda Occhipinti, co-owner of Asbury Park Pedal Boats on Wesley Lake, said her business sponsors the event each year.
“It’s always a fun event and everybody comes out and has a good time,” she said.
Also on the Neptune team were Committeemen Randy Bishop, Kevin McMillan and Eric Houghtaling.
Also on the Asbury Park team were Al Wikander, D.J. Presto, owner of DJ’s Delights and Restaurant, and chamber officials Jackie Pappas and Matthew Whelen.
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