The Greening of the Ocean in Allenhurst


coaster-news-200-newBy RICHARD VIRGILIO

What began 72 years ago as a spontaneous birthday celebration continues in Allenhurst as the most popular beach day of the season – the annual dyeing of the ocean green.

“My grandfather, Bob Fountain who owned the Bubble Land amusement ride in Asbury Park started the ocean dyeing in 1943 to celebrate my mom’s birthday,” said Gail Matarazzo, co-organizer of the current-day ocean dye with her sister Joan Desmarais. “He would be so happy to see how excited everyone still gets. Some people say it’s their favorite day of the summer.”

The 72nd ocean dye will take place at the Allenhurst beach Sun., Sept. 6 at 2 pm. Matarazzo, an Oakhurst resident, times the event to take place prior to high tide. The ceremony begins with a bagpiper procession on the boardwalk and ends with 10 pounds of EPA-approved powdered dye released into the ocean to the joy of hundreds of beach-goers. Many believe a dip in the emerald green water brings good luck until next summer.

Thanks to Matarazzo, her family and friends, the Allenhurst ocean dye is the longest-running event of its kind in the country and the only celebration on Labor Day Weekend. Chicago’s famous river dye began in 1961 and takes place on Saint Patrick’s Day.

“It’s a magical day at the beach that everyone should see,” said Serena Soffer of Asbury Park. “All the little and big kid’s faces light up. I look forward to the ocean dye every year. It’s a beautiful moment and memory.”

All are invited to see the ocean dye celebration from the Allenhurst Boardwalk. A daily beach pass is $10. Extreme weather alternate date is Mon., Sept. 7 at 2 p.m.

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