CCR – NJ Today | Ocean Grove Celebrates Independence Day with 44th Annual Parade
By Lauren Wanko, NJ Today, July 4, 2013
Every Fourth of July in the quaint town of Ocean Grove crowds gather, united in their patriotism.
“We live in such a great country. We need to reinforce it,” said Rahway resident Regina Triano.
They’re here for the Ocean Grove Independence Day parade. Young and old line Main Avenue to celebrate our country.
“Ocean Grove and the parade are the epitome of Americana. There’s no question about that. It just reminds people of what it was like 100/150 years ago to be a small town USA, and it’s not just a slice of Americana, it’s the whole pie when you come to Ocean Grove,” said Camp Meeting Association President Dr. Dale Whilden.
“The American spirit of the Jersey Shore is alive and well. We are here to celebrate the July 4th for the greatest country in the world,” said Ralph Del Campo, interim COO of the Camp Meeting Association.
Today marks the 44th year of the annual Ocean Grove Independence Day parade, with 90 different organizations participating. That’s nearly 1,000 folks marching in today’s event.
This year Calvary Chapel Relief served as the Grand Marshals. The parade’s sponsor, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, wanted to honor the organization for their service after Sandy. Calvary Chapel Relief used Ocean Grove as their home base for operations after Sandy hit, for six months.
“They housed us and provided us with a place to cook. We brought in all the people food and mobilized the groups to do all things here that we could,” said Pastor Lloyd Pulley of Calvary Chapel of Old Bridge.
Sandy destroyed the majority of Ocean Grove’s boardwalk, along with the fishing pier. Faced with $3.5 million in damages, construction is at a standstill. FEMA twice denied the request for aid because the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association is a private non-profit organization and officials say FEMA deemed the boardwalk recreational.
“We continue to work with FEMA and we are in the middle of evaluating whether we will appeal,” said Del Campo.
Meantime, the Camp Meeting Association launched a campaign within the community to raise money for the reconstruction.
“The community has banded together in a way we’ve never seen before,” said Whilden.
And on this day, the community stands together not only as New Jerseyans but as Americans.