By ED SALVAS
Garrett L. Giberson, better known as Gary, is a life-long Asbury Park resident who’s career as a city employee began in his teens and continues today, four years after his “retirement” as director of public works.
Giberson is being honored with the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce Carousel Award presented annually to an outstanding Public Official. The awards ceremony will take place at the Chamber’s Carousel Awards Dinner May 9 at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel.
Giberson is currently the part time manager of the city beachfront, a position he’s held since 2010 when he officially stepped down as director of public works. He supervises a staff that includes 18 lifeguards, as well as the budget, maintenance, equipment and beach safety.
“Asbury Park is very special to me,” Giberson said, “and it’s a special moment to be honored by the chamber.”
His current job keeps him busy right where it all began – at the beach. He started as a teenage locker boy while still a student at Asbury Park High School and then became a lifeguard, and after earning a Bachelor of Science Degree at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, he started working full time for the city, first in the Heath Department, then handling the Safe and Clean Neighborhoods program, code enforcement and eventually the department of public works, then called public maintenance. He became director in 1996.
As a lifeguard, Giberson says he saved many lives but also was himself saved from a near-drowning in 1963 when he became stuck in a 20-inch drain while cleaning the Seventh Avenue Pool. He was finally freed from the grasp of the drain’s suction, but was unconscious and spent five days in the hospital. He says that incident resulted in changes in the pool cleaning procedures.
Giberson also met his wife Susan at the beach. They have four children. Their son Garrett is the city’s Fire Marshall, the others are sons Eric and Christopher and a daughter, Elizabeth McAllister.
Over the years, Giberson has experienced numerous Nor ‘easters, hurricanes and blizzards which have caused damage to the beach and boardwalk, but nothing like the fury of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“There’s so much more today in harm’s way,” he said, hoping the beach replenishment project now underway will protect the city from another Sandy-type surge
The 2014 Carousel Awards dinner theme is “How deep is your lov for Asbury Park,” and tickets are on sale from the Chamber of Commerce, 732-775-7676.