Posts Tagged ‘Ocean Grove 150th birthday’

Illumination Night. Ocean Grove. July 22, 2017. Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger.net ©  Click to enlarge


Illumination Night. Ocean Grove 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©


Ted David originally wrote this piece in the summer of 2019, which was when the 150th Ocean Grove  birthday was celebrated.   Blogfinger ran it again in January 2020 because Ted did such a great job tackling the tough assignment of putting our unique town into perspective.

As he always does, he sees the town in a positive and personal way, noticing how the people here find satisfaction and joy.

Very soon we will be announcing the publication of the third book in his OG trilogy called Encore Ocean Grove.

So below we again post that birthday piece which Ted wrote for us.  Those who care about the Grove will enjoy it.  If  you already read it, read it again.   By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor Blogfinger.net  Feb. 16, 2022.


Ted David:


I attended the re-dedication of the FitzGerald Fountain in Founder’s Park on Victorian Day July 27, 2019. I was only one of at least two hundred people. The choir sang fitting hymns, and preachers and politicians alike spoke eloquently about this gem of a hamlet called Ocean Grove on its 150th anniversary celebration.

The preacher referred to God’s living waters and on cue a grandson and great-grandson of Ted Bell, one of the primary instigators for the restoration of the fountain, threw the switch…..and nothing happened. Cameras and phones were raised to get shots of the first dribble from the four tiered Victorian structure. But no water was to be seen. All perhaps wondered whether or not some glitch in the system would ruin the dedication! Some people stared at the heavens questioning what had happened.

Within a few minutes, which seemed like hours, the fountain came alive. The assembled crowd cheered. Pictures were snapped. A group portrait was taken just like the original in 1907.

Once again God had not forsaken Ocean Grove. Founded shortly after the Civil War and enduring the fortunes of a growing country, Elwood Stokes the first president of the Camp Meeting Association once declared that Ocean Grove was “a religion as well as a town.”

Needless to say times have changed. At one time the all-powerful Camp Meeting Association controlled most everything. Time and the courts have changed a great deal of that, but the essence of the Grove remains. It is in fact a community, maybe not as utopian as the religious founders had in mind, but a community nonetheless.

They could not have possibly imagined the rise of Asbury Park and the entertainments it provides. But they did most likely envision that Ocean Grove would become a Mecca of sorts for tourists and pilgrims from all over the country, if not the world. It has been a special place in these last 150 years. Nothing at all like its neighbors in New Jersey.

People who do come here whether it’s for the day, a week, a month, a season or a lifetime most often say that it is in fact special, different, curious, interesting and a place to which they will always return. Whether it be for religious or spiritual purposes or simply for a stroll on Main Avenue or a dip in the ocean, the one thing people all share is that they want to be happy.

Whether the Grove will survive another 150 years remains to be seen, but the fact that people want to be happy will never change. I believe that Ocean Grove will do its best to provide that happiness…..just like the Founders planned.

SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK:  “This Little Light of Mine.”



Ted David is the author of Forgotten Ocean Grove and The Other Side of Ocean Grove.” His next book (2022), soon to arrive, is “Encore Ocean Grove”

To warm you up for book #3, here is a 2018  link to a piece about Ted when he re-published his first book The Other Side of Ocean Grove (2002)

Ted David, OG author, will be republishing his book “The Other Side of Ocean Grove” and announcing two more Grover books on the threshold.



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July 6, 2019,  parade in OG for Independence Day and the 150th birthday of Ocean Grove. But read the banner, to see what the CMA is celebrating.    Click image to read it.     Paul Goldfinger photo.


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This fine work of fictionalized history is by an Ocean Grove author.  It is about Victorian OG in 1905. It describes a life of over 100 years ago in the Grove  that had nothing to do with the Camp Meeting. The book is available on Amazon. Posted with permission.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger   RE-POST FROM DECEMBER 2020.

At the concert on July 4, 2019,  in the Great Auditorium, Gordon Turk, the host for the concert, said to the audience that we are celebrating “the birthday of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.”  If you read the recent writings of the CMA, it is quite evident that their main goals for this 150th anniversary are based on their religious “mission.”  Just read the 2019 “Ocean Grove Summer  Program Guide” and you will see what they are doing in addition to what they are saying.

In other publicity ads, the wording  for the 150th seems to say that we are celebrating the birthday of the town of Ocean Grove.  And yes, there are many secular events scheduled as well, but it all happens without an effort to clearly define what this town is really about and, in particular, to recognize that there is another Ocean Grove besides the religious based community.

After the founding of Ocean Grove in 1869 by the Camp Meeting Association, the Town’s public taxpaying community and the private religious organization called the OGCMA were essentially one and the same.  But as time went by, considerable diversity evolved, and many residents were not affiliated with the CMA;  but they all had to follow the CMA rules (“blue laws”)  based on religious principles, and those rules were enforced by their own police force.

However, in 1980, Neptune Township took over governance, and the CMA was no longer in charge, although it subsequently brought to bear considerable influence— moral, practical,  and political.

The historical truth, looking back, is that there were groups of residents who got together to oppose the CMA governance as early as 1898 when a group of “lessees” in town sued to get the CMA to pay property taxes to the Township.  The lessees lost the suit at the NJ Supreme Court.

OG historian Gibbons said in 1939:   “Many times residents and land lessees of the town have voiced their objection to the local rules, to the tax situation, or to the form of government, especially from 1900-1925, and there have been many court fights.”

There were those who wanted secular public governance not private religious based rule. In 1920 there was a law passed  in Trenton called the “Ocean Grove Borough Bill.”  There actually was a public democratic town of Ocean Grove established, but for only one year; the law was reversed because the new Borough failed to rid itself of the blue laws.

This anniversary is about 150 years of history in this town, and there are many elements that the CMA had nothing to do with such as  Presidential  visits by Teddy Roosevelt, McKinley, Garfield, Wilson, and US Grant among others; commercial district with historic businesses such as Days; historic organizations such as the Historical Society of OG; Ocean Grove United; the Homeowners Assoc; suffrage  and feminist movements; architectural design and historic preservation; celebrities such as Caruso who visited Grovers here; businesses that started here such as Mrs. Wagner’s pies; giant events such as craft shows and flea markets; Town-wide Yard Sale; OG Film Festival; tax and zoning issues; land use issues; famous hotels; shipwrecks; Wesley Lake pollution; wildlife; restoration of homes around town including the famous Ocean Pathway; demographic evolution; residents’ issues with Neptune Township; parking challenges; relationship with Asbury Park;  condoization, and more.

The point is that this 150th  anniversary is both that of the CMA and the Town of Ocean Grove as separate but related entities.  One is a private religious based group–the CMA, while the other is a public, largely secular community with taxpaying residents often on a different wave length.   The situation, of course, is complicated by the  CMA’s ownership of the land.  This unique connection has yet to be ironed out.

Currently the CMA, which is promoting this 150th anniversary celebration,  is behaving as if it is all one and the same, and their writings confuse the distinctions.  If you read their summer program guide, there is no doubt that they are mostly celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Camp Meeting Association.

The idea of another historic “Ocean Grove” is getting lost in the shuffle;  the “other Ocean Grove” is a historic 150 year old residential small town with much to celebrate besides religion.  And don’t expect the media to “get it” because most of the citizens don’t “get it” either.

So, regardless of these distinctions, we are in the midst of a festive sesquicentennial, and we can thank the Camp Meeting Association for organizing it and paying for it.  And they have every right to do this celebration in whatever way they choose, but at least let’s speak clearly about what is happening.

Let’s enjoy the events, but don’t lose sight of the strange admixture of three factions  that goes on here—perhaps the only such arrangement anywhere in the US.

Don’t depend on Neptune Township to help at all to understand these distinctions, even though they have a sign on Corlies Avenue, near the Grove, that says that we are their “Historic District.”

But they really don’t care much about the Grove. Look at what they do, not what they say.     The Neptuners enjoy the apathy and the distinctions, because they get to milk the cash cow, exploiting whatever differences we have in our town.

JOHN LITHGOW  sings about knowing who we are and appreciating our differences:


How to refer to our town

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View of OG looking north. Ocean Grove artist Jack Bredin. ©  July 2019 © Click on image to enlarge.  Photo of the painting by Rob Bredin.



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Jack Bredin looking east along Wesley Lake. July 17, 2019. Celebrating Ocean Grove’s 150th birthday. Photograph by Rob Bredin. ©   Click on image to enlarge.



FRANK CHACKSFIELD   from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg   “I Will Wait for You.”


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The original Ocean Grove.  No North End Hotel and no Skill-ball.  c.1869


The Ross Bathing Houses, 1878. North End, Ocean Grove Beach. From the Atlas of the Jersey Coast. Previously posted on Blogfinger.  Do you see any historic condominiums there?


Ocean Avenue, Ocean Grove, NJ, summer 1918. Courtesy of Rich Amole  © Blogfinger staff.


This is not a comprehensive list. Most CMA religious events are not listed here.   Consult the CMA web site for more information:   www.oceangrove.org


July 4 Thursday:  The New Jersey Wind Symphony.   7:30-8:30  AUD

July 5  Friday:  Navy Band Pop Rock concert  7 pm  AUD

July 6 Saturday is Community Day

10:30 am – 12:30 pm:     Independence Day Parade

1-5 pm: Town  Celebration.  Along Pilgrim Pathway and Auditorium Square Park.

9 pm  Fireworks

July 7  Sunday:  3:30 to 4:30   The Quartet:  “America Sings”  TABERNACLE     Don’t miss!



July 27 Saturday  is Victorian Day

10 am – 4 pm:  Mrs. Joseph Thornley’s prayer tent in Founders Park

10 am – 3 pm: History of OG video shown continually in the Great Auditorium

11 am-11:30:  Dedication of the Fountain    (DO NOT MISS THIS)    and Re-enactment of Bishop Fitzgerald by Rev. Dr. Tom Tewell.  Founders Park

Note: from Cindy Bell: “the restored fountain is back in town, and Robinson Iron anticipates the final installation on Tuesday July 9th. Landscaping and final touches will be put in place the week of July 15th.  Dedication ceremony:  Saturday July 27th at 11:00 am. Community members are invited to stop by the park to watch the action.”


12-4 pm Horse and carriage tour

Afternoon tours of Great Auditorium, tours of Historical Society Museum,and walking tours of Ocean Grove


There will be more events on August 10 for Ocean Grove Forever Day.




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Illumination Night 2017 celebration in OG. This year it will be part of the 150th birthday events. Paul Goldfinger © Blogfinger.net.

In 1969, Ocean Grove celebrated its centennial. This is the front page of the Ocean Grove Times on June 27, 1969.  The paper cost ten cents.

1869 — Ocean Grove — 1969

A Centennial Summer of Fun

This edition of The Times salutes Ocean Grove on its

Centennial. Founded in 1869, the world-famed/resort community

has entered a full summer of Activities, many of

them planned around the 100th birthday.

The pageant of history, “To These Shores,” will be presented

14 nights this summer, beginning July 2. A large

cast of residents and vacationists are now rehearsing.

The Centennial Parade is scheduled for July 26. It will

be the largest in Ocean Grove history. The traditional Memorial

Day parade, the season opener, was expanded this

year, as will be the Fourth of July parade next Friday.

More than 700 ladies have become Centennial Belles to date.

Men are joining their ladies as “Brothers of the Brush”

or “Smoothies.” Costumes are colorful, as evidenced at

public functions and promenades.

This is a great season for Ocean Grove. The basic

theme of the Centennial celebration is FUN – . .

The Camp Meeting Association is planning festivities this summer, 2019,  for Ocean Grove’s 150th birthday celebration.  The first big event will be on July 6 when there will be the Independence Day Parade from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

That Saturday’s parade will include a mummers string band, ragtime music, marching bands, floats and dancing in the streets.  There will be music everywhere.

Maybe Martha and the Vandellas will show up.

And, that afternoon a Town Celebration will happen with a D.J., food trucks, games, dancing for all, balloon animals, fireworks, and other activities.   “7-10 live bands” in the Boardwalk Pavilion  (one at a time we hope,) and bonfires on the beach, “appropriately sponsored by the three firehouses.”  And much more…

Stay tuned.

–Paul Goldfinger,  Editor Blogfinger.net

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