Carbohydrate-boycotting men and the people that love them converged Saturday afternoon on the north side of Convention Hall for the annual Sand Blast Beach Party, produced by city resident Brad Hurtado.
More than one thousand well-toned and under-clad men and women danced on the fifty by eighty foot orange and yellow dance floor next to Aqua Bar on Asbury Park’s north beach. The party also featured gymnasts on trampolines and inflatable slides. Tillie, the city’s unofficial mascot, made a guest appearance at the seven hour event.
“This is a festival for the senses, an adult carnival,” said Greg McConnell of New York City. “Great music and location surrounded by these fantastic buildings and we could not have asked for better weather.”
The award-winning Sand Blast party is the main attraction in a weekend of events. Twenty other officially sponsored weekend events included pool parties at the Berkeley Hotel, beach Yoga with Arthur Fama, surfing lessons by Coastline Adventures and Jazz brunch at McLoone’s Asbury Grille.
“My wife and I plan our summer around a couple of vacations, including coming to Sand Blast,” said Claire Diaz of Staten Island. “We see old friends, dance and laugh. It’s a weekend to celebrate life and friendships.”
Sand Blast, originally part of Road Trip Weekend, was produced to attract GLBT community members to Asbury Park.
“The most important thing about Sand Blast is that it lets everyone know Asbury Park is a welcoming city,” said Tom Gilmour the city’s director of commerce. “From an economic standpoint it provides a yearly boost to the city’s commerce. All our lodging is booked and the restaurants are packed.”
Saturday night, restaurant owners in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove reported “two hour plus” waits during peak dining time, attributing the approximately 10 to 20 percent business increase in an already strong season to excellent weekend weather as well as the beach party. Low carb meals were said to be the most popular.