With Fire Island getting the lion’s share of the attention this summer for making poor decisions regarding large gatherings and reckless behavior, the Jersey Shore has been, with several minor exceptions, relatively subdued. The LGBT community has returned to the beaches and to the various establishments in Asbury Park. For the most part, social distancing is intact and residents and visitors are enjoying the low key summer we have all been faced with being the order of the day, with mostly successful results.
While most of the community is acutely aware of what is occurring in our nation and the severity surrounding it, some are still bound and determined to do their best to morph what truly is a summer like no other into….every other summer (regulations be damned). Recently the post below popped up on several New Jersey pages geared to the LGBTQ community, referencing a party at Sandy Hook N.J.’s Gunnison Beach. The (clothing optional) Beach Getaway was to take place this Saturday, July 18th and was poised to be a full day (and night) of beach frivolity, followed by an evening “Hotel Chill” at an undetermined location. The event invitation clearly offered options for travelers from New York City to arrive via SeaStreak ferry as well as car. Originally, the event did not mention social distancing or mask requirements, and after a number of comments, these caveats were added to the event invitation.
New Jersey’s relationship with LGBT circuit party events has a long and storied history, with Asbury Park holding the Road Trip and Sand Blast events annually within the past decade. These events featured over the top beach parties filled with a plethora of entertainment for the community, with some of the events showcasing the best that Asbury Park had to offer in terms of home ownership and the restaurants and retail shops. Robert Ciro, a frequent Asbury Park visitor who has attended some of these events, says that in the current climate that “the party being planned on Sandy Hook beach is a terrible idea seeing as our part of NJ has been working hard and diligent to keep our numbers low. We have been trying out best to follow Murphy and the CDC guidelines. I understand everyone wants to get back to a normal life however we need to be smart now so we dont have to keep shutting down. We all know if people are drinking on a beach that is not so fully enforced no one is going to respect space and masks. Sandy Hook officials also agreed and were thankful for the heads up realizing how dangerous throwing a party would be right now with numbers still spiking all over.”
I spoke with a source who seemed to have internal knowledge on the party this morning. They told me that “the getaway is cancelled” and cited “people blew it out of proportion” as the reason behind the cancellation. They let me know that “on the Fourth of July, the beach was packed”, and that the Getaway “wasn’t a party in the first place”, it was “a getaway since the beach reopened for “people to gather amongst their friends”. The source also indicated that “social distance and wear masks” was in effect. Following my conversation with this source, the entire post and corresponding Facebook link was removed completely from the site. I did reach out to Gunnison Beach and Sandy Hook officials, who stated that they knew “nothing about a party”, but reminded me that “due to COVID, there are no large gatherings on the beach permitted at any time, nor are permits being issued for gatherings.”
After the unsanctioned parties on Fire Island cropped up, longtime activist Cleve Jones spoke about passionately about the thoughtless recklessness that is being exhibited by these partiers. This is the final tweet of a several tweet thread;
3/3 Then we can meet and drink and party the night away again. But not now, not today, not with infection rates skyrocketing and hospitals overflowing. How many will die before you wake the fuck up? You break my heart. #COVID #LGBTQ
— Cleve Jones (@CleveJones1) July 6, 2020