AJ Meerwald send off party raises $10K

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The AJ Meerwald, New Jersey’s official tall ship, departed Point Pleasant Beach in the early hours of Labor Day Sept. 6 and a special Mayor’s Invitational Meerwald Sendoff Party held on the vessel Saturday helped to raise $10,000 in support of the Point Pleasant Beach Community Endowment Fund. 

“We had a lot of volunteers, Red’s Lobster Pot and Jersey Shore BBQ donated a ton of food for 165 people and we raised a ton of money,” Mayor Paul Kanitra said during the Sept. 7 meeting of the Point Pleasant Beach Borough Council.

During the reception Sept. 4 on the Meerwald, which was docked on Channel Drive at its intersection with Baltimore Avenue, attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, a raw oyster bar, beer and wine as well as live entertainment by local musician James Dalton.

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“We raised $10,000, and we will see what happens with this, but a donor who did not want to be named came up and said that any money that the Community Endowment raised they would match so we might be doubling what we made. It would give us a great ability to restart the summer concert series next summer and a couple other things around town people will enjoy,” Mayor Kanitra said.

The Point Pleasant Beach Community Endowment Fund seeks to secure private-sector resources and community support to provide for capital improvement, other projects, events and purchases for the community, to lessen the burden on the local taxpayers and to improve the quality of life for residents.

The AJ Meerwald is a restored, 115-foot-long oyster-dredging schooner, whose New Jersey home port is in the town of Bivalve, along the Delaware Bay. Launched in 1928, the vessel was one of hundreds of schooners built along South Jersey’s Bayshore before the decline of the shipbuilding industry during the Great Depression. 

Today, the tall ship is used by the Bayshore Center at Bivalve as a traveling classroom along the area’s waterways. The AJ Meerwald was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 1995. It now heads to the Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine for restoration work being handled by Clark & Eisele Traditional Boatbuilding.

“It was just a great event and the most important thing when we talked to [Brian Keenan] the executive director of the nonprofit and we talked to the crew, they loved Point Pleasant Beach,” Mayor Kanitra said.

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