LBT Beach Patrol Starts What It Hopes Will Become Island-Wide July 4 Flag Beach Run

Jul 12, 2017
Photo by: Robert Lynch/LBTBP Long Beach Township lifeguard Morgan Belforti carries the American flag as she runs northward on the beach during the LBTBP’s first July 4 Flag Run, which also included several other beach patrols on the Island.

The Long Beach Island Beach Patrol Lifeguard Tournament will be contested for the 56th time in a few weeks. But with some more organization, a new traditional event might be in the works. And it all started with an on-the-fly idea from a Long Beach Township Beach Patrol captain.

“Moving forward, we definitely want to make this more of an organized effort, coordinated with all the beach patrols, and make it a fantastic tradition,” said LBTP’s Ryan Williams, who oversaw the development of a July Fourth American Flag Beach Run from Holgate to Barnegat Light. “This really started with an idea that was thrown out there, and we just went with it. And it turned into something tangible and real.”

After noticing more beachgoers bringing American flags with them to the six township beaches, Beach Haven Crest Capt. Andrew Howarth suggested that township guards make a patriotic push to show their solidarity by relaying Old Glory along the some 18 miles of beach on July 4.

The idea caught fire and a plan came together really fast. As the word blazed through the township patrol divisions – Beach Haven Crest, Spray Beach, Holgate, Brant Beach, North Beach and Loveladies – the excitement built, Williams said.

“Our people were 100 percent for it,” he said. “And it was such a well-received idea, the word of mouth from patrol to patrol was incredible. Everybody wanted to get in on it.”

And with that, Jake Lane started the trek in Holgate and the flag was passed on to dozens of guards from there, as they made their way northward.

However, most of the other Island beach patrols didn’t know anything about it until township guards began running along their beaches, and only a few of the other beach patrols participated as the flag made its way through their towns.

“I saw somebody from one of the township patrols running with the flag up one of our beaches, but we did not participate,” said Beach Haven Beach Patrol Chief Mike Lawrence. “We didn’t know about it.”

When asked about it on Monday, Surf City Beach Patrol Capt. Mark Dileo said he knew nothing about the flag run. After radioing to his guards to inquire who might have participated, it was discovered that Max Gaudioso ran with the flag “for a couple of streets, but he was the only one.”

“I would have run it myself if I knew about it,” Dileo said.

Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol Capt. Randy Townsend said he hadn’t heard about it prior to July 4, but as the flag made its way into Harvey Cedars four of the HCBP guards – Dan Hem, Griffin Delaney, Shane Stauffer and Clay Martinelli – took turns carrying the Stars and Stripes.

“We didn’t know about it until that day, but we were glad to participate,” Townsend said.

By press time, Ship Bottom Beach Patrol had not confirmed whether any of its guards helped out in the relay. But in Barnegat Light, supervisor Don Adams said he had been out on the beaches all day and “didn’t see an American flag go by.” He, too, checked in with his guards on Monday and all of them confirmed what he had thought.

“I checked with everybody,” he said. “None of them saw anybody running with an American flag the entire day. Obviously, we didn’t know anything about it.”

Williams said he had received reports that the flag made it to Barnegat Light, giving him the impression it went through the borough, but he was not certain exactly how far north Old Glory had gone. He said, for next year, the ideal scenario will be that all of the Island’s beach patrols be involved.

“From what we know, it was a big deal to a lot of people,” he said. “A lot of people took pictures as the flag went by them. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the patrols about it. A lot of people really loved what we did to honor America. Now, hopefully, we can make this a bigger deal for next year.”

— David Biggy

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