Vote on Elksfest permit set for Tuesday

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — An application by Point Pleasant Elks Lodge 1698 for a social-affairs permit to hold its annual Elksfest on the same day as the 43rd annual Festival of the Sea, Sept. 18, has been denied by Chief of Police Joseph A. Michigan for a third year.

The permit will be on the agenda at the Point Pleasant Beach Borough Council’s July 6 meeting, and lodge members are urging the governing body to remember the lodge’s strong history of community support as they vote.

“The Point Pleasant Elks have been advised that the council vote for our social affairs permit for our Elkfest on the same day as the Seafood Festival is scheduled for Tuesday, July 6, 2021.  We are aware that Police Chief Michigan has denied our application citing security concerns,” Treasurer Ann Marie O’Hare wrote in a letter to The Ocean Star.

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“We ask the members of the council of Point Pleasant Beach to carefully consider their vote. We ask that you consider who we are and what we do for our community.  We have never been in the past and are not now a security risk … the Point Pleasant Elks have never been a problem for this town and we are willing to work with the police and any other Point Pleasant Beach department to resolve any issues or concerns.”

The mayor and council first opted in 2018 not to reconsider the denial of the permit for the lodge to host its annual Elksfest, formally known as Oktoberfest, one of its biggest fundraisers of the year, on the same weekend as the annual Festival of the Sea, which is put on by the Point Pleasant Beach Chamber of Commerce and draws an estimated 50,000 plus people to the borough. 

Oktoberfest had been a part of the festival for decades until the application was denied, drawing widespread protest. The event is a way for the Elks to raise funds for special-needs children, veterans, scholarships to local high school seniors and other community support.

The lodge had received an outpouring of support and neighboring Point Pleasant Borough approved the use of the Arnold Avenue Park, just around the bend from the lodge’s headquarters, to host the event in 2018 and in 2019, when the permit was denied again.

“It is important to note that Chief Michigan did not contact us or give us any opportunity to discuss his concerns and/or provide us with an opportunity to propose other options such as bringing in our own police to secure our event,” Ms. O’Hare wrote.

“He has never provided us with any statistical evidence or documentation that supports his denial of our social affairs permit for security reasons. It is also important to note here that for all the years that our Oktoberfest was held on the same date as the Seafood Festival there is not one single reported incident or security problem at the Point Pleasant Elks. In fact, the Point Pleasant Elks have been known for providing some respite for families… away from the crowds on the street.

“Point Pleasant Elks Lodge 1698 is a member of the Point Pleasant Beach community so let’s work together and let us come back home.”

As of Wednesday evening, Chief Michigan did not respond to The Ocean Star request for comment on the subject, but in past public discussions, has said he believes the increasing growth of both events would make it difficult for his department to ensure the safety and well-being of all the attendees, while also policing the rest of the town and the boardwalk.

In an interview with The Ocean Star, Mayor Paul Kanitra voiced his support for the lodge and its members.

“I am extremely appreciative of the job that our police in Point Pleasant Beach do and I think anybody who has followed me or the decisions that we have made can see very clearly how much we stand for law and order here, but that doesn’t mean that I always agree 100 percent with everything, and in this case I think it’s a mistake,” he said.

This is an excerpt of the print article. For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.

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