By ED SALVAS
The sight of brightly colored pedal boats on Wesley Lake between Asbury Park and Ocean Grove is a sure sign that we’re putting winter’s snow and ice behind us.
2021 marks the 11th year for the attraction, and Linda Occhipinti, co-owner of the business, is hoping for a successful season after the Covid19 Pandemic lock downs and restrictions on gatherings nearly sank the 2020 season.
“We didn’t open until June 22 last year. We lost three months and five holidays,” she said. This year’s opening on the Saturday before Easter has Occhipinti optimistic things will be different this year.
Ten fiberglass boats are ready for opening day and Occhipinti said they include a pink flamingo, green dragon, a white swan and a black swan and she’s planning to bring a purple swan to join the fleet. “It’s Disney on the lake,” she said.
Occhipinti and her partner, Joe Gambarini, came up with the idea for the boats after she lost her job as a Financial Consultant and approached the City Council for permission. The boats have become so popular that people rent them for family events and even businesses rent the boats for employee outings. Each boat seats two adults and one child or one adult and two children and are rented for 30-minutes and there are no reservations. There is no age limit for children, they even have life jackets for infants
Safety on the water is paramount and Occhipinti gives a brief safety talk before each boat leaves the dock. All passengers must wear life jackets and are reminded it’s not a party boat, no alcohol is allowed. Occhipinti said the pedal boats are for enjoyment but has another amenity – it’s great exercise. As for the lake itself, Occhipinti said the lake is “better than ever, the cleanest it’s ever been.”
Pedal boats on the lake are nothing new in Asbury Park. Long time residents and visitors often tell Occhipinti they remember the earlier version in the 1930’s to the 60’s.
The Asbury Park Pedal Boats operate on Wesley Lake between Grand Ave. and Heck St. from 11 AM to dusk weekends only until the summer when they will be open seven days. Get more information at www.AsburyParkPedalBoats.com