ALLENHURST OCEAN DYE’s 71st YEAR: LEARN WHY THE OCEAN WAS NEON GREEN
In 1943, to celebrate his daughter’s birthday, Bob Fountain owner of Bubble Land in Asbury Park dropped some of the extra green dye he used into the ocean. Unknowingly, he started a Technicolor tradition that today thrills in Allenhurst every Labor Day weekend.
“(Fountain) used the green dye to color the water in his kiddie ride and the fountains on the boardwalk,” said Gail Matarazzo, Fountain’s granddaughter and co-organizer of the ocean dye. “My grandfather would never believe what the ocean dye has turned in to. He would be so happy to see the beach crowded and everyone excited and having fun.”Seventy-one years later, this year’s event “Old Memories Never Dye” was dedicated to Allenhurst beach’s iconic lagoon and cove which are scheduled for removal later this year during the beach replenishment initiative.
“The lagoon is a big part of the history of our Allenhurst beach family,” said Jack Lehmann, event co-organizer. “Many of us grew up playing in that lagoon. We wanted to pay tribute and celebrate it.”Sunday’s event began with a bagpiping ceremony followed by lifeguards swimming 150 feet out into the ocean to release 10 pounds of the EPA-approved powdered dye.
Children squealed in delight as they competed to fill water bottles with the greenest water. Adults dove and dipped in the emerald green ocean, many believing the tradition represents good luck until next summer.
Earlier in the afternoon, generations of families that have spent decades of summers in Allenhurst gathered near the lagoon and cove for a commemorative photo taken by Coaster photographer Mike Booth. Complementary prints of the photo are available with one-year subscription or renewal to the paper.
“Bubble Land was the last child-friendly amusement ride tradition on the Asbury Park boardwalk and its owner, Bob Fountain provided a generation with wonderful memories,” said Helen-Chantal Pike, author of Glory Days of Asbury Park. “I think it’s a lovely tribute to her grandfather that Gail continues the dyeing of the ocean green.”
The Allenhurst ocean dye is the second known event of its kind in the US.
“This tradition started by a family 71 years ago still celebrates family and good friends,” said Matarazzo. “It is a such a nice way to commemorate the unofficial end of summer.”
For a subscription to The Coaster and a free copy of the historic lagoon photo, email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.