By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
The annual Lobster Fest in Bradley Beach was a major success this year, due to great weather and even larger crowds.
Bradley Beach Chamber of Commerce President John Esposito could not have been happier with the weekend event.
“It turned out to be such a great day, we couldn’t have ordered better weather, if we could even do that,” he said.
The estimate crowd for the two day event was 60,000.
The festival was moved from July to June so it would not interfere with beach attendance during the height of the summer season.But the change, said Esposito, only helped both the beach and festival revenues.
“It went hand in hand,” he said.
Esposito said he spoke to many people from outside the shore area while tending the chamber booth on the promenade.
“We spoke to people from all over the tri-state area at the chamber table. So many said ‘Thanks for putting on such a great event,’” he said.
People were also asking about next year and if the dates would be the same.
“They were so enthusiastic, it really made me proud as a chamber member to be a sponsor of this event,” he said.
Esposito also said festival goers remarked about what a beautiful beachfront the town has.
“It couldn’t be a better promotion for the town of Bradley Beach,” he said.
He said one man remarked that it was nice to see Bradley Beach getting publicity instead of Asbury Park.
“Asbury Park usually gets the notoriety and it’s glad to see Bradley Beach in the spotlight,” he said.
Esposito, who owns the Beach Cinema on Main Street,said he told some customers about the festival and they called him later to thank him for directing them there.
“They said ‘We really love this event and you know what we liked the best, the music…it was free and it was so entertaining,’ ” Esposito recalled.
The festival included food, vendors, kiddie rides, music and a beer and wine garden.
Esposito said the proceeds from the beer and wine garden went to the chamber, but members of the Ladies Auxiliary tended bar at the beer garden and kept all the tips earned for their organization.
“They made a lot of money and that really helps out their organization and the fire company,” Esposito said.
Organizers of the event included chamber directors Beth Cotler, also of the Ladies Auxiliary, Shirley Ayres, Ray Bloetjes and Pat Betty.
Mayor Gary Englestad also had high praise for the event.
“Bradley Beach was packed,” he said.
But the mayor said even though traffic was heavy, it was moving.
He said organizers of the event did a good job, which helped prevent a situation similar to Belmar’s last year when the town had to close its borders because of the high volume of traffic.
He credited the police and public works for making the two days run smoothly.
“Public works said they never had to clean up so much trash,” he said.
Engelstad said he had friends visiting from Maryland who remarked that they couldn’t believe the high level of activity on the boardwalk.
The mayor said he is waiting for beach badge totals hoping that beachgoers were able to park and access the beachfront.
“It was an amazing event, when you have people parking on the 600 block…” he said.