Monmouth County: The Historic Town of Ocean Grove – Part 1

We are now headed to my home town of Ocean Grove.  This town is separated by two lakes, Fletcher Lake on the south and Deal Lake on the north, so there is no entry from Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park.  You can walk the boardwalk into Ocean Grove from Asbury Park, but you can’t drive in.

One of the access roads is Route 71 South.   That will take you right to the gates of Ocean Grove on Main Avenue, or you can take Route 33 East into Broadway of Ocean Grove.

The Historic Town of Ocean Grove was founded in 1869 by the founding fathers as a Methodist Camp Meeting Community.  Today, while it is still governed by the Camp Meeting Association it has grown into one of the most beautiful vacation spots on the Jersey Shore.

To be governed by the Camp Meeting Association means that Ocean Grove still has its religious affiliation with the United Methodist Church: Ocean Grove is probably one of the last dry towns in New Jersey.  You cannot purchase alcohol with the square mile that’s been designated as “God’s One Square Mile.”  On Sundays, in season, from Memorial Day weekend until the weekend after Labor Day, the beach does not open to the public until 12:30 in the afternoon.  In other words, church service first.

There are two very distinct faces of Ocean Grove:  Camp Meeting activities and The Chamber of Commerce related activities, as well as the Historical Society.

Think about Saturday nights, in the summer, sitting outdoors on a lawn chair or even better, sitting inside Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium waiting to see and hear Johnny Mathis perform, or Neil Sadaka, or Tony Bennett, or the sounds of the Abba Tour.  Or being part of the laughter of Tim Conway’s jokes, or feeling nostalgic with Paul Anka.    It happens at The Great Auditorium every Saturday night in the from Memorial Day weekend until the Saturday night after Labor Day.  And this summer is no different.

It’s the same Great Auditorium that brings you the inspiring preaching of Will Graham . There are preachers from every religious background that come to share their religious insight  with the community in Ocean Grove.  There’s daily bible study, seminars, Camp Meeting Week, and a host of other religious activities for adults and children as well.

The Chamber brings to Main Avenue, Ocean Grove’s main strip, just three blocks west of the beach, the best of entertainment in the street.  This weekend kicks off the Ocean Grove Women’s Weekend, May 13-15, 2011.  “Enjoy a weekend of friendship, fellowship and fun with your mom, sister, best girlfriend, daughter, niece, aunt, grandmother and other favorite females in Ocean Grove, with exciting events taking place all over town including: Friday night author lecture on the suffragette movement and women’s history in Ocean Grove.”  Saturday will be spa day activities at the Historic Women’s Club of Ocean Grove, including body and mind and soul healing activities.

There is so much to do and see in Ocean Grove.  It will take another two or three articles to point out the historic town’s best features for a most memorable vacation.  So next time there will be more of Ocean Grove’s B&B’s and restaurants.