Surf City Is First LBI Municipality to ‘Paint the Town Pink’ in May

April 11 Is Local Deadline to Join Cancer Awareness Campaign
By | Mar 27, 2014

In May, the facade of Surf City will be blushing as the borough becomes the first municipality on Long Beach Island to partake in “Paint the Town Pink,” a breast cancer awareness initiative begun by Meridian Health two years ago.

The non-profit organization that oversees Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin was able to convince Stafford Township officials to participate last year, posting a banner declaring the town “Pinkahawkin.” Participating businesses were adorned in pink while educational materials on the importance of receiving regular mammograms for women awaited inside. Meanwhile, organizers and local residents planned fundraiser events for Southern Ocean Medical Center to provide regular cancer checkups to those who might not be able to afford the cost.

Surf City follows suit this year, as one of 30 towns in Ocean and Monmouth counties participating in the second year of “Paint the Town Pink.”

All during May, Surf City will be officially known as “Surf Pink,” proclaimed by a large banner, most likely to be displayed on Long Beach Boulevard near the Ship Bottom border.

Why not “Pink City,” or the double entendre “Surf Pinky?” Well, the latter is just plain silly and the former is the domain of Neptune City, which already snatched up rights to that nickname.

Patrol Officer Sarah Collins of the Surf City Police Department organized the town’s participation, obtaining permission from the borough council on March 12. Surf City Councilman Peter Hartney, who is also president of Surf City Volunteer Fire Company and EMS, said the fire company would most likely get involved by decorating its trucks.

As of now, Collins is working to get more town businesses involved as “Pink Partners.” Their names go on as well as about 800 to 1,000 business “goody bags”/starter kits that will be given out for the initiative, according to Meridian Health spokeswoman Donna Sellman. Within the pink tote bags will be a jumbo-sized pink ribbon, paint, broad-tip markers for windows (the likes of which are used by recent school graduates on their cars), a stack of flyers and educational material to be made available at counters or registers.

“That helps them get ‘pinked-in,’” said Sellman, “Then many businesses take on their own level of creativity. How extensive they get with it is up to them.

“The great thing about the entire initiative is you can simply support it, or go all-out.”

She explained “Paint the Town Pink” began in Red Bank, which was dubbed “Pink Bank” at the time. It was copied in Little Silver and Fair Haven, before growing beyond Monmouth County area to include towns in the surrounding areas of Meridian Health System hospitals, including Ocean Medical Center in Brick and Manahawkin’s own Southern Ocean Medical Center (formerly Southern Ocean County Hospital).

“Last year was the first year and many towns said, ‘It sounds really good. We’re just not sure what it’s all about.’ Then they saw what everyone else did and got a flavor for it, which has helped build momentum into this year,” said Sellman. Support for the program, she said, has extended to schools where teams might don pink for certain games, or teachers might hold a Pink Dress-Down Day, for example, where a $5 donation earns the donor the right to dress down in a salmon hue.

That fundraising component spawned each town’s “Pink Fund” which businesses can organize ways to participate, from a pink piggy bank at the counter to selling pink products where a portion of the proceeds goes to each area’s hospital for women in need of mammography screening. Part of the campaign objective is to identify whom those people are, Sellman explained.

The month of May was chosen to compliment Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, to “remind people all year-round” of the importance of early detection, she said.

The month – as it follows “April showers” – may have inspired an idea for Collins, as she hopes to have a “Plant the Town Pink” day for residents and businesses that participate. The idea is provide access either to pink flowers to display, or at least seeds that would produce as much.

An annual Get LBI Running 5K race, taking place in the borough in May, will most likely incorporate the spirit of pinkness as well.

Businesses have until April 11 to sign up to participate. Anyone interested in getting involved or sharing ideas may email Collins at, check out the Facebook page “Paint the Town Pink - Surf Pink,” or stop in the borough hall and speak with administrative assistant Tara Wallerstein, who is helping to spearhead the initiative locally.

“Right now we’re just really trying to get businesses on board before the April 11 deadline,” said Collins. “We got a late start on that, compared to other towns. It’s a big month for the Island so I think it’s a great way to open women’s eyes to ‘the power of pink’ and preventative measures for something that’s serious.”

—Michael Molinaro


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