ROAD TRIP 8 WRAP-UP
First-time visitors from Atlanta, Los Angeles and internationally, Israel and Brazil were among the more than estimated 7,500 guests Asbury Park welcomed last weekend during Asbury Park Marketing Fund’s, Road Trip 8.
“What a few of us endeavored to do eight years ago when we planted this event’s ‘seeds’ was to simply share and celebrate Asbury Park with our friends and family in the gay community – collectively reach out to others in a grass roots way,” said Brad Hurtado, one of the weekend’s producers. “Today, Road Trip has become a destination weekend from all over the country and beyond. People come, fall in love with the city and make it their own.”
Road Trip 8 began Thursday evening – thanks to Jill Potter – with a performance by comic Suzanne Westenhoefer at the Stone Pony (attended by 300 people) and ended with an over-the-top circus themed beachfront fashion show, waves crashing dramatically in the background, “Cirque du Asbury” by Aaron Coleman.
“Road Trip makes a great day at the beach more interesting,” said Edward O’Donnell, Philadelphia resident. “Good music and spending time with friends and my extended gay family here is something I look forward to every summer.”
In between seaside lounging breaks during the lightly breezy 85 degree days, local house parties, cocktails, shopping and dining around town, guests also enjoyed Friday evening’s Kick-Off Party; SandBlast – Saturday’s main event dance party on the beach and Sunday’s Gay History Trolley Tour.
SandBlast welcomed 1300 guests – more than double last year’s attendees, including “Queer Eye’s” Carson Cressley and James Dale (whose landmark lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America made headlines almost a decade ago).
“We loved the fireworks on Saturday choreographed to dance music,” said first-time visitor Carmine Clemente, who, with his partner Chuck White stayed the weekend in Ocean Grove’s Manchester Inn. “Langosta Lounge was great. Watermark was really good. We ate at Market in the Middle twice. Every minute of the weekend was a fun spectacle.”
Area resident Billy Mecca agreed, watching the great circus themed fashion show.
“Cirque du Asbury was a blast – one of the best and memorable events on the boardwalk so far this summer,” said Billy, of BeachBlog.me. “Everyone in the crowd loved every minute of it. The show was an all-age crowd pleaser.”
Guests also noted the positive change the area is experiencing.
“It’s obvious the city is moving forward,” said Mike Barber visiting with his partner from Philadelphia. “This was the best year yet. We love all the new shops and restaurants on the boardwalk and around town.”
I heard Mike’s sentiment expressed a number of times and Jill Potter summed it up best about our city.
“Asbury is contagious, once you’re here, you ‘get’ it and you need more of it,” said Jill. “Sometimes its something that you really cant define, and then, there are times you can. Generally, its a feeling of acceptance, it’s a feeling of being part of something, a growth. I think, for the residents, Road Trip is a very proud moment and one which they feel they own.”
Beyond showing off the City, Road Trip has proven to be a valuable weekend for area businesses.
“The weekend welcomes many to Asbury Park who, in turn, spend significant dollars to support our shops, hotels, clubs and restaurants,” said Tom Gilmore, director of commerce. “Road Trip is one of the city’s premier events and is the type of event that defines our great city as a place for everyone to come have fun.”
For the first time, the Asbury Park Marketing Fund licensed Road Trip to local event producers in order to focus on its mission of promoting the City.
TONS MORE RT8:
- Exclusive “You Say Who” Road Trip 8 gossip. ALL the fun scoop.
- Road Trip 8: calendar of events.
- Search “Road Trip” for headliner interviews only found here.
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