Manasquan & Brielle May 2024

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Manasquan +Brielle



Crawl for a Cause

May 2024


Here is that opportunity to be in the "Sweet Spot" of Manasquan where you are surrounded by Manasquan's best: beach, downtown, parks, and marina! Pretty 4BR/3BA Shore Colonial features oak hardwood floors on 1st level, extremely bright and sunny Kitchen, open floor plan, 1st Floor Guest Bedroom w/ full bath, spacious Master Suite, and bonus 3rd floor loft! This is the location that offers the true Manasquan lifestyle where you can walk to the beach, to Main Street's shops and restaurants, to 3 different parks, to the Glimmer Glass or Stockton Lake to launch a kayak/paddleboard, and to the train station for quick and easy trip into the downtowns of Spring Lake, Point Pleasant Beach, Belmar, Bradley Beach, Ocean Grove, and Asbury Park! Make your appointment today for this great opportunity!

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2 | MANASQUAN+BRIELLE Contents MAY 2024 16 6 28 24 20 12 ON THE COVER From left:
Tiffany Prime and Jay Prime enjoy this year’s Manasquan Backyard Crawl. PHOTOGRAPH BY MANASQUAN + BRIELLE STAFF FEATURES 16 The Wipeout Seen Around the World On December 18, 2023, New Jersey was hit by the biggest surf of the century. Nobody got a closer look than Brendan Tighe. 20 Crawl for a Cause The Manasquan Backyard Crawl has quickly become one of the hottest tickets in town, while raising money for great local causes. 24 A Class of Their Own Celebrate the end of the school year as we spotlight a few of the community’s most beloved teachers. IN EVERY ISSUE 4 Publisher’s Note SUMMER STARTS NOW 6 Around Town BITE-SIZED UPDATES 10 Q&A LEGGETT’S HEAD BARTENDER PAUL WOLF 12 Home Front CINCO DE MAYO WITH CHEF DARREN 28 Wellness Watch INLET YOGA 30 Book Nook MEET BESTSELLING AUTHORS! 32 Photo Op WELL, THAT’S JUST SWELL
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Summer Starts Now

I’ve never taken much stock in what the calendar says. For me, summer begins in early May. Especially here at the Jersey Shore, a place that practically invented summer vacations. (We’re still fact-checking that one, but you get the idea.)

Sure, some stuffy meteorologist might try to tell you that summer technically begins on June 20. Obviously, that so-called expert has never been to Jersey.

Here in the glorious Garden State, summer begins as soon as the weather beckons us outside. It begins with the smell of burgers and barbecued chicken, as our neighbors fire up their backyard grills. It begins when we can hear live music drifting out of the beachfront bars. It begins with flip-flops by the front door and bathing suits hanging over the rails of the back deck.

And, of course, summer in Manasquan and Brielle is about riding bikes with your

friends, no matter how old you are. On that note, check out Morgan Mechler’s cover story on the Manasquan Backyard Crawl. In a little over a year, Tiffany Prime’s brainchild has quickly become one of the hottest tickets in town.

In this issue, you can also read our Q&A with Paul “Hector” Wolf, head bartender and general manager at Leggett’s Sand Bar. If you’re young, single and reading this from the air mattress of your summer rental, you’ll probably be seeing Hector a lot this summer, so try to stay on his good side.

For the surfers, May is that wonderful time of year when we finally lose the boots and gloves, and our last chance to paddle out wherever we like before the lifeguards arrive to plant their flags and partition the beaches.

If that sounds familiar, you’re going to love our story on Brendan Tighe and the historic storm that hit New Jersey back in December. The pictures from that day are truly epic. Special thanks to photographers Dave Nilsen and Matt Lang for their contributions to this issue.

We think that you’re going to love it, and we hope that you’re reading from either the beach, the back deck or the Leggett’s patio. Because here at the Jersey Shore, no matter what the calendar says, summer begins right about now.

Manasquan +Brielle MAGAZINE

Group Publisher

Jodi Bruker

Director of Business Development

Kathy Gordon


Christopher Baldi

Art Director

Sue Park

Copy Editor

Nancy Fass


Morgan Mechler

Darren Monroe

Meghan Schultzel



Carroll V. Dowden

President and CEO

Mark Dowden

VP, Group Publisher, Regional

Thomas Flannery

VP, Content Strategy

Maria Regan

Creative Director

Kijoo Kim

Advertising Services Director

Jacquelynn Fischer

Operations Director

Catherine Rosario

Production Designer

Chris Ferrante

Print Production Manager

Fern Meshulam

Advertising Production Associate

Griff Dowden

Manasquan + Brielle magazine is published by Wainscot Media. Serving residents of Manasquan and Brielle, the magazine is distributed monthly via U.S. mail. Articles and advertisements contained herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Copyright 2024 by Wainscot Media LLC. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent.


New Construction in the Heart of Manasquan

Enjoy living in this coastal community that has it all - scenic beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, exceptional surf aside the inlet, a 55-acre conservation for fishermen, kayakers and wildlife enthusiasts plus walking distance to a thriving downtown with unique shops, restaurants and theater.

This classic seashore design features a covered front porch, Gambrel roof with board & batten accents, CertainTeed cedar impression siding, Andersen 400 series windows & slider, Azek trim, and cultured stone accents. Interior boasts wide plank engineered hardwood floors, decorative moldings, gas fireplace, designer kitchen cabinetry with island, Quartz countertops, pantry, wet bar, and Stainless-Steel appliances.

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WHAT’S NEW Around Town


Beginning at 8 a.m. May 11 at Curtis Park, the Sea Lavender Garden Club presents the Mother’s Day Plant and Bake Sale. Come taste an amazing variety of homemade bread, cakes and cookies. If you’re readying your summer garden, shop for herbs, flowers, hanging baskets, patio planters and more. The perfect place to find unique gifts for Mother’s Day! Proceeds benefit college scholarships for local high school graduates.


Last month, we told you about Max Gomez, founder of Brielle’s AMP’D Fitness, who launched a fundraising campaign in support of AmyMarie DeLuca, an AMP’D member who needs a new prosthetic leg—a major expense not covered by her insurance. In a few short weeks, Gomez and the AMP’D Fitness team have raised more than $15,000 for this amazing cause. “Max has been a game-changer in my fitness journey,” says DeLuca, who was all smiles at the April 13 live event. Thanks to all our readers who contributed and congratulations to AMP’D Fitness on a truly inspiring success story.


Register now for Brielle Recreation’s Summer Recreation Program, and get ready for six weeks of games, sports and fun! Open to Brielle residents who are entering first through sixth grade. Held at Brielle Elementary School from June 24 through August 4, Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Registration is $250 for the summer if you register by May 31. Sign up today at



Congratulations to Manasquan’s Algonquin Arts Theatre on a sensational production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Gina Lupi directed a stellar cast in the latest installment of The Algonquin’s Broadway Series. Next up: Grease Is the Word! From May 10 to 19, the Algonquin presents one of the most popular musicals in Broadway history. Due to high demand, additional shows have been announced—but get your seats now, because these tickets are going faster than greased lightning!

Manasquan PBA 284 presents the return of the Manasquan Food Truck Festival on May 4! Bring your appetite and the whole family to Mallard Park from 1 to 7 p.m. for raffles, live music and the very best local food vendors. Admission is free and proceeds benefit great local charities. Rain date: May 5.


On May 20, hit the greens and give back to the community, as The Springpoint Foundation hosts its 47th Annual Golf Classic at Brielle’s beautiful Manasquan River Golf Club. All proceeds benefit great local causes, including Springpoint’s food pantries and affordable housing programs. Rain date June 3.

MAY 2024 | 7

Around Town


Ring in the sunny weather on May 22 at Leggett’s Sand Bar as Manasquan Tourism presents the Summer 2024 Cocktail Kickoff Party. One drink, a buffet and a 50/50 raffle ticket are included with your $20 entry fee. Up for grabs: six season beach badges and two parking passes. See you there!


Congratulations to the Manasquan High School Girls Basketball team for defeating Madison with a commanding 47-26 victory to win the Group II state championship! The state title is the Warriors’ tenth overall, their eighth since 2012, and the seventh for head coach Lisa Kukoda.


Good news! Manasquan Seniors wants you! Founded in 2005, over 130 men and women count themselves as members of Manasquan Seniors, an arm of Manasquan Recreation Weekly activities include shuffleboard, bocce, and other games and activities. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month except July and August.

Design | Build | Maintain ROCK

Inside Leggett’s

Prepare for your next night out by getting to know the head bartender at Leggett’s Sand Bar.


With 36 years of experience, Paul “Hector” Wolf is the head bartender and general manager at Leggett’s Sand Bar. To kick off summer 2024, we caught up with him to discuss cocktails, etiquette and the songs that never fail to start the party.

I imagine this time of year is like the calm before the storm at a place like Leggett’s.

Definitely. It starts getting busier as soon as the weather cooperates. Pretty soon we’ll be welcoming the summer crowd with our patio open full force.

Let’s talk etiquette, for our friends from out of town. Suppose the bar is totally packed. What’s the right way to catch a bartender’s eye, versus the wrong way?

Just remember that we’ll see you. You don’t have to whistle, snap your fingers or reach over the bar. If you have money in your hand, we know that you’re waiting to order. And have your order ready instead of asking everybody in your group what they want once we get to you.

On that note, any recommendations?

In the summertime, our signature drink is the Miami Vice. That’s a combination of strawberry daiquiri and a pina colada with a dark rum floater in it.

Do you have a preferred hangover cure?

Definitely a bloody mary.

Anything to eat with that?

Probably a classic Jersey pork roll, egg and cheese.

Suppose somebody has never been to the Jersey Shore. How would you explain the summer culture here?

This time of year, Jersey is an interesting mix of different people. But we all want the same thing: Everybody wants great weather and good times.

How many bad pick-up lines have you heard lately?

(chuckles) Actually, not as many as I used to. People still want to meet other people and that will never change, but sometimes it seems like there’s less interaction than there used to be. Maybe it’s the internet effect? Sometimes I see a guy buy a drink for a girl, but then he won’t even go over to talk to her. That’s a big mistake right there.

So you see a difference in the nightlife of the younger generation?

In most ways, it’ll never change. But certain things go out of style. For example, we do live music on the patio. But for a lot of the younger generation, they’re not as into live bands as they used to be; they’d rather hear (pre-recorded) playlists. Certain bands like Mike Dalton or Undisputed still bring lots of people in, but it’s not like it used to be, when all the kids would follow young bands around.

What are the songs that get the biggest reactions these days?

For the last couple summers, anything by Taylor Swift. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey always gets people going. And at the end of the night, we always play “God Bless America” or the National Anthem, and people still go crazy for that.

On the other hand, there must be songs that you never want to hear again. Like for example, how many times have you heard “Sweet Caroline?”

(laughs) At least once a weekend for the past 36 years. But it’s good for business.

& a
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Let’s Taco ’Bout Cinco de Mayo

Chef Darren hosts various events, such as farm-to-table dinners and cooking classes throughout the Jersey Shore, and offers food prep for those who need a little help eating healthy. He recently teamed up with the Brielle Cookbook Club for culinary education and inspiration. His mission is to cultivate connection and build community through the medium of amazing food.

Let’s be honest: For many Americans, Cinco de Mayo is just an excuse to party! That’s fine, I guess. Many of us are stressed out and overworked, and any excuse to let loose and have a good time isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Of course, if you’re drinking, drink responsibly. Now, if you prefer to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by enjoying some Mexican cuisine, like me, then you are in for some muy buena comida. Warning: Like many gringos, whenever I discuss or visit Spanishspeaking cultures, I can’t help but sprinkle the bits of Spanish that I remember from high school and from working in commercial kitchens. Vamos!

Mexican food is some of the most delicious, freshest and healthiest out there. In fact, there is evidence that Hispanic Americans in general tend to live longer than other Americans, despite having socioeconomic disadvantages and less access to healthcare on average. It’s called the “Hispanic Paradox,” and while it’s difficult to pinpoint the reasons for this phenomenon, researchers suggest that both diet and

strong social networks are likely factors. Mexican and other Latino cuisines are full of whole, fresh fruit and vegetables, beans and healthy grains like rice and corn, often in the form of tortillas. Yes, we’re talkin’ about TACOS!! Tacos may be my favorite handheld food vehicle. They are versatile, pretty, delicious and just perfect for delivering different flavors and textures in a single bite. Here are a few tips for hosting the ultimate taco night:

• Use corn tortillas and warm them without oil in a pan on medium-high heat until you see some brown spots (usually 30-60 seconds each side). Wrap in a clean dish towel to keep warm. Extra points if you make tortillas from scratch!

• Make salsa and guacamole yourself (see recipes). They are easy to make and are just way better than store bought. Just make sure to buy ripe avocados, which should yield slightly to firm, gentle pressure.

• Get your family or friends involved. Little Timmy can mash the avocados. Cousin Vinny can make the salsa.

Cooking with Chef Darren

Your aloof tween can stare blankly into the distance as she warms the tortillas. It’s a family affair!

• It’s all about the garnishes! Lay out little bowls on the table with fun, colorful toppings like purple cabbage, pickled jalapeño or red onion, cilantro, corn salsa, lime wedges, mango, etc. The possibilities are endless!

This month’s recipe is a twofer, a simple but underrated Mexican staple and perhaps Mexico’s most famous dip: refried beans and guacamole. If you’ve never made refried beans from scratch, trust me, it’s worth it. Savory and healthy with a jalapeño kick, it’s like a day of too much sun on a Cabo beach: Satisfying but slightly uncomfortable. Sometimes I use these beans in my tacos instead of meat (as pictured), but they can also be eaten straight or with your favorite rice. And guacamole is, well, GUACAMOLE. Es mi favorito!


This recipe is super basic but still very tasty. That’s how I like it. But feel free to add extra spices like cumin, paprika etc at Step 3 to kick it up a notch!


• 1 tbsp oil

• 1 jalapeño halved, with seeds removedunless you like it extra spicy

• 2 15 oz. cans of black beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed

• 2 cups water

• salt to taste


1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat.

2. Add the jalapeño and cook until blistered on both sides (a few minutes each side).

3. Add beans, water and a really good pinch of salt, and bring to a boil.

4. Once it begins to boil, mash the beans with a potato masher, fork or spatula to desired consistency. I like to leave about a quarter of the beans whole.

5. Reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer about 5-10 minutes, depending on if you like your refried beans more dense or liquidy. Add water if the consistency is too thick and starts to burn.

6. Serve with rice, tacos or on its own. Enjoy!



• 3 or 4 ripe avocados

• small handful cilantro, roughly diced

• 1 lime, juiced

• 1/4 red onion, small, diced

• 1 roma tomato, deseeded and diced

• 1 clove garlic, minced (opt. 1 tsp garlic powder)

• pinch of salt and pepper to taste


1. Halve and pit the avocados, and mash with a fork or potato masher in a medium size mixing bowl. (Note: If you are unsure about the proper way to pit avocados, you can refer to online instructional videos—be careful as it can be a little dangerous!)

2. Add and mix the rest of the ingredients.

3. Taste for salt and lime, adding more if needed, and enjoy!

MAY 2024 | 13


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The Wipeout Seen Around the World

Dave Nilsen took the now-iconic shot of Brendan Tigue’s epic wipeout, which went viral within hours.

On December 18, 2023, New Jersey was hit by the biggest surf of the century. Nobody got a closer look than Brendan Tighe.

By now, just about every surfer in the state of New Jersey, along with millions of people around the world, has seen the image of Brendan Tighe’s wipeout. It’s an image that instantly went viral: Tighe in his wetsuit, perched atop a wave two stories high, arms outstretched as his board slips away from him. Almost everybody who sees it has the same two initial reactions: “That can’t be New Jersey.” (It was.) And “Did he survive?” (He did.)

Tighe is alive and well, but the story behind Dave Nilsen’s photograph and the details of that epic storm are still being told. Within hours of that picture being taken, Tighe was contacted by Surfline, CBS News, News 12 and countless friends and family members. Back in December, Tighe was politely guarded about what he told people. The truth was scarier than he initially let on. This is the complete story of his Big Monday.

The Swell of the Century December 18, 2023: A low-pressure system that originated in the Gulf of Mexico intensified as it moved up the East Coast, where it encountered an exceptionally powerful high-pressure ridge over the Atlantic. The result was the biggest surf that New Jersey

had seen in decades, according to just about every metric.

One of those metrics is the Delaware Bay buoy, found 26 nautical miles southeast of Cape May, used by experts to gauge swell height and wave direction.

“Only a handful of days on the Delaware Bay buoy registered a wave height exceeding 6.3 meters, and that record goes back to the 1980s,” says Surfline’s Vice President of Forecasting Kurt Korte. “There was only one swell bigger than Monday’s combined peak of 6.3 meters at 15 seconds: January 1992.”

Ocean City’s Rob Kelly, a three-time state champion professional surfer, put it more simply: “These were the biggest, heaviest waves I’ve ever surfed in New Jersey.”

Across the Jersey Shore, waves were breaking as far as a half-mile out to sea, with 40 to 50 mph offshore winds— conditions that made surfing virtually impossible at most beaches. By mid-morning, conditions at Bay Head and Mantoloking were slightly cleaner than other breaks, and even then, the massive waves were only borderline rideable. Most surfers stayed out of the water. Only the toughest and most skilled attempted to paddle out, as hundreds watched from the beach.

MAY 2024 | 17

A Wall of Water Tighe, 33, of Point Pleasant Beach, has been surfing since he was 8 years old. Before getting his real estate license, he was a professional surf instructor with Summertime Surf School for 15 years. He’s not flashy or fame hungry; he’s a guy who simply loves the sport.

“I’m not one to go search for where the photographers are shooting,” says Tighe. “I put my ego in my pocket a long time ago. I do it for myself, and my mentality has always been to find the black double-ups; the biggest, hollowest, most dangerous barrels around, whether they’re closing out

or not. Even if nine out of 10 waves are unmakeable, that’s my heaven.”

Tighe hit the Swell of the Century riding his 6’4” quad fin Rozbern. The power and velocity of the swell was unlike anything he’d ever seen in New Jersey.

“The waves resembled a break called Puerto Escondido that I’d only seen in Mexico,” he says. With one big difference: The ocean temperature in Bay Head on December 18 was 47 degrees.

He’d been in the water for less than a half-hour when that two-story wall of water began taking shape.

“What I look for in a wave is a clean

runway. And that wave had drawn all the energy off of the smaller wave that came before it. If you look at the first frame of that video sequence, there’s so much water drawing up the face, it looks like it’s going to be one of the best waves of my life. It just all changed in the second and third frame to a completely unmakeable wave.”

Tighe paddled into the wave, but when he stood up to make the drop, the wind held him back. He tried to jump straight down, in a maneuver that he has used many times before: Pencil diving to the ocean floor and then kicking off the bottom once the wave has rolled past.

Pencil Dive, Foiled

“I was trying to execute that pencil dive, but my board got stuck in the lip of the wave. The wave pulled my board so hard that it snapped my leash, and the force of that snap sent the trajectory of my body sideways. At first I didn’t penetrate the water; the momentum just whipped my body and smacked my head across the surface.”

As the wave closed out around him, Tighe’s body was so out of control that he couldn’t feel his limbs. For a few terrifying moments, he thought he was paralyzed. His board was already long gone, creased at the middle, missing a fin, flailing behind the crashing wave.

When Tighe finally recovered the use of his legs and found the surface, the next 20-footer crashed down on top of him. He estimates that he took another four waves on the head while the current swept him about 200 yards.

Tighe finally made land near the first Bay Head jetty and eventually collapsed on the beach. The whole session had lasted a little over 30 minutes. He returned to his truck and stared at the steering wheel for about 40 minutes.

At this point, Tighe’s phone was already ringing. Word of the wipeout had reached his wife, Kerry. “Two or three of my friends had called her to check on me after they saw me crossing the beach with my eyes glazed over.”

Tighe didn’t want to alarm his family, so he glossed over certain details in his initial accounts. In reality, he was suffering from a minor concussion and a significant case of whiplash. “Over the next few weeks, I had eight visits to a chiropractor trying to get my neck back in place.”

Top: Surfer Tommy Ihnken, awed by the massive swell. Bottom: Brendan Tighe: “I went from being nonexistent on social media and not using my phone to getting 500 calls a day.” (Photograph courtesy of Brendan Tighe.)

The View From the Sand Dave Nilsen spent about an hour shooting pictures from the Mount Street beach, near the intersection of Bay Head and Mantoloking. In that hour, he saw only one or two successful rides in between a lot of vicious closeouts. “After all the videos came out, there were maybe three or four guys the whole day who actually made waves and came out of the barrel without getting closed out.”

As Nilsen was shooting, the water was getting dangerously shallow. “By the time Brendan went for that wave, the tide had gotten so low that the waves were standing straight up. Some of the guys who made the drop, I couldn’t believe they even attempted it because it was so vertical.”

Nilsen has been shooting surf photography since 2009 but had never seen a swell that size in Bay Head. “Brendan’s wave was just gigantic. One of the biggest waves I’ve ever seen in New Jersey. I’ve never seen Bay Head get that big and actually clean up.”

Higher Power

Prior to the Swell of the Century, Tighe hadn’t been in the water for about three months. For the preceding 30 days, he’d

been off the grid on a mental health break. He hadn’t used his phone, looked at social media or checked the surf report for a solid month.

When he finally returned to the grid and clicked on Surfline, he was stunned to see the next day’s forecast calling for 20-to-25-foot waves.

“I spent 30 days with no phone, working out every day, and I came back in the best place of my life. When I saw that forecast, I said, ‘I’m gonna get the biggest, heaviest wave and get the barrel of my life. My higher power had other ideas and said, ‘Nope, you’re gonna eat it from the top of a two-story building, and then I’m gonna put you on CBS.’”

The photo went viral within hours. Tighe was inundated with messages from friends, family and news outlets. “I went from being nonexistent on social media and not using my phone to getting 500 calls a day. My phone was literally dying from everybody calling.”

In a few short days, Tighe’s image was viewed millions of times across various formats. For years, he had been known around the Jersey Shore as a guy with nerves of steel; now the entire worldwide surfing community learned his name.

But in private, a conversation with his wife would change his entire approach to surfing.

“After that day, Kerry said to me, ‘Please stop looking for the black double-ups.’ And her words really hit me. I’ve gotten pretty good at wiping out over the years, and I’ve learned to fall with control. But that wave opened my eyes.”

The Swell of the Century was followed by a series of smaller, more manageable swells. Tighe made a full recovery and returned to surfing regularly.

But ever since that record-breaking Monday in December, he’s become more selective about the waves he chases. He still lives for a good storm, but he’s more focused on his professional career than ever before and was recently named the top-producing local realtor with Keller Williams. Most importantly, he never hits the water without thinking of his wife and children.

“I still hunt the crazy double-ups,” he says, “but only if they have an exit. I have a beautiful family that I want to come home to.”

Christopher Baldi is the editor of Manasquan + Brielle magazine.
MAY 2024 | 19
Brendan Tighe, seen here in Mantoloking in 2017, in the pocket of a slightly more manageable swell.

Crawl for a Cause

The Manasquan Backyard Crawl has quickly become one of the hottest tickets in town while raising money for great local causes.

In the heart of the Jersey Shore, amidst charming picket fences and blooming gardens, residents of Manasquan and neighboring communities come together in their backyards to share stories and to forge friendships. Our backyards offer a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a place to unwind and relax under the open sky. It was in her own backyard that Manasquan resident Tiffany Prime was first inspired to create a new annual tradition, one that gives back to the community that she loves.

The idea for the Manasquan Backyard Crawl first originated while Prime was relaxing with her husband, Jay, in their family’s own backyard.

“I love spending time outside in my backyard, and I love helping people. I wanted to find a way to combine these two. I came up with the idea to have a fundraiser where people would travel on their bikes from backyard to backyard tasting delicious food, listening to great music and spending time with friends, while raising money for (Manasquan resident) Aaron Van Trease.”

In September 2022, during his senior year at St. John Vianney, Van Trease was tragically injured

and paralyzed on the field during a football game. Ironically, the injury occurred during St. John Vianney’s game against Manasquan High School, as Van Trease was playing against some of his childhood friends.

“Anyone who knows the Van Trease family knows that they are loving, caring and amazing people,” says Prime. “Aaron has made tremendous strides in his recovery, and the Crawl is just one of the many ways the Manasquan community is always there to support him.”

A Fundraiser Is Born

Once the idea was born, Prime went right to work in creating the fundraiser. In mere minutes, 13 additional Manasquan families had offered to take part. Prime devised a planning committee, and logistics easily fell into place. And just like that, the Backyard Crawl quickly became a reality.

The first annual Manasquan Backyard Crawl was held last year on May 18, and consisted of 20 houses. For safety reasons, the Crawl was divided into four different routes, with five backyards per route. The event was a resounding success.

“The response from last year’s event

was so incredible,” says Prime. “We were blown away by the community’s response and desire to be involved. We have expanded and included some exciting additions this year. There will be six new backyards and another route.”

This year’s Crawl has attracted more than 40 sponsors, with Jersey Mike’s generously being the event’s top sponsor. All goods and services for the Crawl are donated. Hosts, restaurants, chefs, bakers, musicians and photographers strictly volunteer their time, energy and resources. “No one is paid for their services, which makes it even more special,” says Prime.

In addition to the Van Trease family, this year’s Crawl will benefit the family of Jillian Ludwig. Ludwig was a freshman at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, when she was tragically and senselessly killed by a stray bullet on November 7, 2023. At the time, she had been walking through a park near campus.

Ludwig found joy in music and used music as a way to give back to others. She volunteered her time and sang at the 2023 Crawl and had happily committed to perform at the 2024 Crawl.

MAY 2024 | 21
Top: The first annual Manasquan Backyard Crawl was a resounding success. Photo courtesy of Eileen Korz. Bottom left: More than 1,040 people are expected to attend this year’s Crawl. Photo courtesy of Susan Coble. Bottom right: Last year’s Crawl raised more than $26,000. This year’s event is projected to raise $40,000. Photo courtesy of Caroline Baker.

Supporting a Scholarship

Some of the proceeds from this year’s event will be used to establish a scholarship in Ludwig’s name and to continue the organization that she created.

“Play it Forward” was founded by Ludwig as a way to raise money for kids seeking musical education opportunities. “We want to raise money to help Jillian’s love of music and her desire to help people grow,” says Prime.

As preparations for this year’s event continue, Prime is overwhelmingly excited. “The Crawl is one of the best days of my life. I’m not kidding! I love helping the community,” says Prime.

“Aaron and Jillian are so special to me, I just can’t wait to support them!”

Last year’s Crawl raised $26,000 for the Van Trease family and the Manasquan First Aid Squad. This year’s event is projected to raise more than $40,000. “We sold 1,040 tickets, double last year’s amount, and they were sold out in 15 minutes,” says Prime.

The Manasquan Backyard Crawl will be held on May 18. There is a pre-party from 6 to 8 p.m. on May 17 at The Salty Whale, where participants will be able to pick up their lanyards, which are “the key’’ used to gain entry to every backyard on the Crawl. The pre-party will feature live music by

The GrooveSharks. Sponsors will be handing out leis, beads, sunglasses and glow sticks that can be worn or used to decorate bikes.

The Manasquan Backyard Crawl exemplifies the unwavering support and camaraderie found within the Manasquan community. It showcases the impact of collective action and local connections. Already evolving and expanding in its second year, the Crawl serves as a testament to the power of unity in the pursuit of a common cause

Though tickets for the 2024 Crawl are sold out, the anticipation for next year’s event serves as a reminder to mark your calendars and join in on the festivities!

Top left: Last year’s Crawl included a route of 20 backyards. This year’s event includes new routes and six additional yards. Photo courtesy of Taylor Carlson. Top right: Artisanal cake pops are just one of the goodies up for grabs. Photo courtesy of Ginnie Kelly. Bottom left: The Backyard Crawl features an outstanding selection of food and drinks. Photo courtesy of Wendy Gray. Bottom right: Photo courtesy of Caroline Baker.


This year’s event looks to be the best yet. Here’s what’s in store.


• Heather and Darin Muly

• Dan and Eileen Reilly

• Dineen and Dave Seeley

• Mike Conforti and Bernadette Viviano

• Jane and Terry Brady

• Linda Wastack

• Tom Ganter and Kathy Cassidy

• Eileen Korz and Vince DiFabritus

• Shanna and Matt Quinn

• Kevin and Cathy Naughton

• Jacqueline Klosek and Thomas Lozinski

• Marion and James Ahern

• Andi and Mike Parkhill

• Celestina and Billy Seeliger

• Lisa and Jeff Haas

• Glenn and Jill Guy

• Shannon and Bryan Boczon

• Kerry Walsh

• Henrietta and Ken Mahon

• Tiffany and Jay Prime


• Max Devros

• Bill Roll

• Cluck-U

• Due Amici’s

• Heights 27

• Fratello’s

• Jimmy’s Cucina

• ABL Appliances Terry Higgins

• Squan Tavern

• The Shore Spot

• Hooked Up Pizza

• Nauti Butler

• Olive & Oak

• Bella Luna Catering

• Jersey Mike’s

• Elks Club

• Spring Lake Manor

• Rella’s

• Gee Gee’s

• Riverside Café

• Drew’s Market

• Malissa Walthall


• Pepe Events

• The Dessert Bar

• Rollins and Hart Candy Co.

• The Macaroon Shop

• Daydream Delight

• Winding River Cookie Company

• My Monsters Bake Shop

• Pot Belly Baked Goods

• William Wild Chocolates

• Mama Michelle’s Sweet Treats

• The Baker

• Sweet G’s


• The GrooveSharks

• Sunday Brunch

• Brendan Coulson

• From the Ground

• Hump Day

• Canning Quintet/Jake Romano

• Wavelength

• Rhythm & Dudes

• Kerry Kenny Band

• Take Five

• Los Gringos

• E Boro Bandits

• Hope Road

• Indigo Sky

• Just Killin’ Time

• Elliot Maher

• John Rafferty

• Neon Garage

• Tom Vincent

• Tyler Veit

• Sam Jordan

• 10th and D

• Tanner Grigoli

• Charlie Kelly



• Jersey Mike’s


• Warrior Pools

• Herrmann Construction

• Olive & Oak

• OceanFirst Bank

• Falkinburg Tree Expert Co.

• BODY20

• Collinson Homes


• Track 35 Pilates

• MAX Improvements

• eXcursion Performance eBikes

• Pilari Design

• Tom Bailey’s Market

• Ride Leon’s

• Melissa Giegerich KW Spring Lake

• Salt + Cedar Properties

• Atlantic Modular Builders

• ERS Better Homes, LLC

• Epic Gymnastics

• Kristopher Kopsaftis, Financial Advisor, New York Life


• Ralco Builders

• Green Roots Turf Care and Landscaping, LLC

• Shooboo Trolley & Shuttle Co.

• The Osprey

• Estates By Vallario

• G Martin Builders, LLC

• Coastal College Counseling

• Westphal Property Management

• Conover Beyer Associates

• Ethicare Home Health Services, LLC

• Orthopaedic Institute Brielle Orthopaedics


• Extreme Green Landscape + Design

• Heather Muly

• The Salty Whale

• Marion Ahern

• Margaret Newbury

• J. Love & Co.

• Yippee! Yard Cards

• Monmouth Jet Center

• Doctor T Shirt

• Manasquan Bike Shop

• Wingman Planning

MAY 2024 | 23

A Class of Their Own

Celebrate the end of the school year as we spotlight a few of the community’s most beloved teachers.

Teachers hold a unique and profound place in the world. They influence children’s lives, shaping their academic growth, personal development and future aspirations. Beyond imparting knowledge, they serve as mentors, role models and sometimes even parental figures, guiding young minds through the complexities of learning and life. The impact of a dedicated teacher can extend far beyond the classroom, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of their students.

To celebrate National Teachers Day on May 7, we are spotlighting four special teachers who have been identified by their colleagues, students and the community for their personal commitment to education. All four have been teaching for many years and have undoubtedly made a positive impact on numerous children’s lives in our community with their unwavering commitment to education.

“Teaching is a true honor.”

Mrs. Gina Martucci is the 2024 Manasquan High School (MHS) Teacher of the Year. She has been teaching mathematics for 29 years, 20 of them at MHS. During her career, Martucci has

taught geometry honors, algebra 2 and precalculus, which is her favorite subject. Two years ago, Martucci co-founded the Manasquan chapter of Mu Alpha Theta (the mathematics honor society), giving students an opportunity to share their math skills with students of all ages throughout the district.

Martucci has always been incredibly passionate about math, as well as her students. She loves the electric atmosphere of a high school. When she started teaching almost three decades ago, she was not much older than her students.

“Although that is not the case anymore, teaching high school keeps me young,” says Martucci. “I can’t imagine having chosen a different career path. Having the opportunity to make a difference in young people’s lives while trying to instill a love for learning and teaching the importance of hard work and dedication to a subject that may be difficult for some is a true honor.”

“Seeing their smiles makes my day.” Heather Saake is the 2024 Manasquan Elementary School (MES)Teacher of the Year. Saake began her career at MES in 2011 as a special education teacher,

but for the past seven years, she has been an integral part of creating, developing and expanding the preschool program at MES.

Saake dreamed of being a teacher from a very young age. “When I was a young child, I always wanted to play school with my sisters,” says Saake.

Manasquan was a perfect fit for Saake as she attended both MES and MHS. “I feel very fortunate to work at MES. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with some of my favorite teachers who influenced me to one day become a teacher.”

Saake takes great pride in ensuring that her preschoolers are happy, healthy and excited to come to school. She cares deeply about creating a supportive and caring learning environment.

Her favorite part about teaching is building relationships with her students. “Teaching preschool has made me realize that teaching can be silly and fun, and reaffirmed my love for what I do. Seeing their smiles and waves in the hallway or in public makes my day.”

During her time off from school, you can find Saake at the beach, hanging out with her niece and nephew or catching up on the latest best-seller.

MAY 2024 | 25
Gina Martucci and students. “I can’t imagine having chosen a different career path.” Photo courtesy of Gina Martucci

“School is my happy place.”

Cheryl Shaak is a kindergarten teacher at Brielle Elementary School. She has been teaching for 30 years and is currently celebrating her 25th year of teaching at Brielle. Before moving to kindergarten, Shaak spent 10 years teaching second grade.

Shaak’s favorite thing about teaching is the young children with whom she gets to spend every day. “I love everything about it,” says Shaak. “The kids make me laugh every day. Brielle Elementary School is my happy place, and I am so lucky to work there.”

Shaak says that she loves looking back and reflecting on her students’ progression from September to June. Seeing

her students turn into capable readers toward the end of the year is one of her most fulfilling feelings.

Shaak is also a resident of Brielle and an alumnus of Brielle Elementary School. “Living and working in the same tight-knit community is amazing. Teaching at Brielle has always been a dream of mine. One of the best feelings is when I run into my past students and hear about their high school and college experiences. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”

When she is not teaching kindergarteners their letters and sounds, Shaak volunteers as an EMT in Brielle. She also keeps lessons exciting by including the classroom’s pet turtle, “Mr. T,” who turned 20 this year.

Top: Cheryl Shaak and students. “Brielle Elementary School is my happy place.” Photo courtesy of Cheryl Shaak. Bottom: Heather Saake is Manasquan Elementary’s Teacher of the Year. Photo courtesy of Heather Saake.

“I know I made the right decision.”

Catherine Kappy is a first-grade teacher at MES. She has been teaching for 31 years, and 27 of them have been at MES.

While considering career paths during her college days, Kappy initially struggled to decide between nursing or teaching. Today, she has no regrets.

“I absolutely love teaching!” says Kappy. “I know I made the right decision all those years ago.

“It’s difficult to pick one favorite thing about teaching, but I always cherish those moments in the classroom when I can feel and witness the kids actively learning,” says Kappy. “I strive to provide a classroom that is calm, comfortable, and a safe and fun environment. The Manasquan community

has something special; there is a strong sense of family. My administration and coworkers are nurturing, supportive and involved. I get to spend the day with 6- and 7-year-olds, and how great is that! I’m very thankful.”

In addition to her classroom, Kappy loves spending days at the beach with her husband, who is also a teacher, and her two daughters. She can often be found taking long walks with her Labrador retriever by her side. “My husband and I have grown up here and have been locals since birth. We are beyond grateful that we can do what we love and live where we live.”

The impact that teachers have on their students’ lives is undeniably everlasting. It takes a certain type of person to be a

teacher; they must be patient, selfless, caring, inspiring, knowledgeable, empathic and understanding. This list could go on and on.

An excellent teacher is one of the greatest blessings in a child’s life. I know this firsthand because my mother, Molly Mechler, is an amazing teacher, and I would be remiss if I didn’t give her a special shout-out. Teachers deserve more than just one day of recognition; they’re an invaluable part of our community for the entire school year.

Morgan Mechler is a senior at Manasquan High School. She is the co-editor of the school newspaper and the captain of the cheer team.
MAY 2024 | 27
Top Left: Desks not always required! A pair of Catherine Kappy’s first graders hard at work. Bottom left: Even in the digital age, school picture day remains a time-honored tradition Right: Kappy in her classroom with a group of students. “I get to spend the day with 6 and 7-year-olds, and how great is that!” All photos courtesy of Catherine Kappy.

Inlet Yoga: Building a Community

This month, we’re excited to showcase Manasquan’s Inlet Yoga. Inlet Yoga stands as more than just a studio; it’s a sanctuary where individuals find solace, support and transformation. At its helm is Jennifer Vafakos, a seasoned yogi and former fashion industry maven who traded the fast-paced world of design for the serenity of yoga.

Originally from Maryland and with roots in Brooklyn, Jennifer’s journey to yoga ownership was a winding path. During her two decades in the fashion industry, she felt a shift away from personal connections and community. Seeking solace during a time of personal transition, she found herself drawn to her yoga practice, which she had taken up during her 20s. It was a pivotal moment when she walked into her teacher’s class and felt embraced by a sense of support, a feeling that she knew she had to share.

In 2016, Jennifer seized the opportunity to purchase Inlet Yoga, infusing it with her vision of fostering a tight-knit community and offering transformative yoga experiences both on and off the mat. Central to Inlet Yoga’s ethos is its emphasis on connection and community. Teachers not only guide students through poses but also check in on their progress and well-being, fostering a sense

Meet Jennifer Vafakos, who traded the fast pace of fashion for the serenity of the yoga studio.


When: May 2, 7 p.m.

What: Goat Yoga

Where: The Atlantic Club Register:

When: May 18

What: Bay Head 5k

Where: Bay Head - Point Pleasant Register:

When: May 19

What: Superhero Sprint 2 or 1 mile.

Where: Wall Municipal Complex Register:

When: May 25 to September 2, M/W/F/S, 7:30-8:30 a.m.

What: Manasquan Beach Yoga

Where: Sea Watch Beach, Manasquan Info:


What: Manasquan Ocean Mile or 1/2 mile swim

Where: Manasquan Beach Register: squanswim

When: August 3

What: Sea Girt 5K

of belonging and growth.

Having experienced a class led by Vafakos herself, I can attest to the unique atmosphere that she cultivates. Far from a typical yoga session, her classes are physically challenging yet emotionally and mindfully driven. With laughter woven into the practice, I left feeling not only rejuvenated but also uplifted.

Inlet Yoga boasts a diverse team of 12 teachers, each bringing their own style and expertise to the studio. From seasoned instructors with decades of experience to specialists in myofascial massage, the studio offers something for everyone. “We want to see our students improving, otherwise we aren’t serving them,” says Vafakos. Regular workshops and events further enrich the community experience, from seasonal celebrations and children’s yoga workshops to their

“can’t miss” annual Winter Solstice event, for which they’ve partnered with Barlow’s Garden Center.

Additionally, the studio’s comprehensive 200-hour RYT Modular teacher training program, led by senior teachers, empowers aspiring instructors to hone their craft and share their passion for yoga. 90% of their students end up teaching.

While discussing the Manasquan community, Vafakos reflects on the serendipity of life’s challenges and opportunities. For her, Inlet Yoga is not just a business; it’s a reflection of the vibrant people that it serves. In the spirit of mutual support, Inlet Yoga embodies the essence of small-town living, where neighbors become friends, and growth is fostered through collective strength. This studio is truly a home,

Where: 810 The Plaza Sea Girt Register:

Have a fitness or wellness event that you’d like featured? Reach out to Meghan.

Want to be featured in an upcoming Wellness Watch? Reach out to Meghan and follow along for local wellness events. Instagram: @Meghan__schultzel

MAY 2024 | 29


BookTowne Welcomes Best-Selling Authors This Spring!

Our staff is excited to announce several authors who will be in town discussing new books. Tickets can be found at


Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

May 11 at 4 p.m. at BookTowne

New York Times best-selling author and our friend Drury is back with his new book, “Throne of Grace: A Mountain Man, an Epic Adventure, and the Bloody Conquest of the American West.” This exciting true story follows the legendary adventurer Jed Smith and the Mountain Men who carved their own path through the American West in the early 19th century. Drury and his co-writer, Clavin, give life to the story of Smith, who has gone under the radar in terms of our land’s early explorers. Come hear Drury discuss Smith’s remarkable accomplishments.


May 14 at 6 p.m. at Brielle Library

From the best-selling author of “Dear Edward” and “Hello Beautiful” comes “Within Arm’s Reach,” which is being rereleased 20 years after its original publication. In this spellbinding debut, we follow three generations of a New Jerseybased Irish Catholic family navigating the complexities of loving and being loved. Fans of Napolitano’s previous work will adore this one.


May 15 at 6 p.m. at Algonquin Arts Theatre

The #1 New York Times best-selling author has returned with a new Myron Bolitar thriller. Our favorite characters from the series reunite in this twelfth installment, in which Bolitar and Windsor Horne Lockwood III are on the hunt for a dead man who has seemingly come back to life. This novel can be read as a standalone, although the entire series is certainly worth the read!


June 12 at 6 p.m. at Brielle Library

The #1 New York Times best-selling author of “Before We Were Yours” joins us at the Brielle Library to discuss her epic new novel. Inspired by the untold story of women pioneers who came to the aid of children affected by greedy land barons in early 1900s Oklahoma. Fast-forward to 1990, as a newly hired park ranger gets caught up in a controversy that uncovers a longhidden burial sight. “Shelterwood” is a sweeping historical novel that only Wingate could write.


June 25 at 6 p.m. at BookTowne

Staff favorite and best-selling author of “We All Want Impossible Things” Newman will be in conversation with another favorite of ours, New Jersey author Alice Elliott Dark. “Sandwich” is a special book that will have readers laughing out loud and tearing up on the same page. Rocky and her family have been vacationing in the same house on the Cape for two decades. This is the beautiful story of one week at the house, full of lunches, laughter, tears and secrets. Life affirming and heartfelt, this is a book not to be missed.


By Liv Constantine

June 27 at 12 p.m. at the Woman’s Club of Manasquan

Our Literary Lunch series continues with international best-selling author Constantine! In this highly anticipated follow-up to the Reese’s Book Club pick “The Last Mrs. Parrish,” we return to the lives and antics of Daphne, Amber and Jackson Parrish. All the shocking twists and turns that we loved from the first book are here, in addition to some very interesting new characters. “The Next Mrs. Parrish” does not disappoint. All are welcome!

Leigh Mallin is a bookseller at BookTowne.

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Well, That’s Just Swell

Thanks again to Brendan Tighe for his participation in this month’s feature story. Here’s another shot of the fearless Tighe charging the Storm of the Century on December 18, 2023, taken in Bay Head by Matthew Lang. “We had all seen the surf reports, and everyone’s anticipation was off the charts,” says Lang. “I could hear the waves breaking as soon as I got out of my car. There were only a few guys out there attempting to tame the beast. The biggest bombs New Jersey had ever seen!” For some of the Jersey Shore’s best surfing photography, follow Lang on Instagram @matthew_lang_photography.

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