This Saturday, August 14, Ocean Grove celebrates its Victorian and Methodist heritage with live music, walking tours, horse-and-carriage rides, children’s games, poetry readings, historic reenactments, hymn sings and worship opportunities. Starting at 8 pm, colorful lanterns at the 114 tent camps, cottages and Auditorium Square Park will be lit. There will be music throughout and a very, very long line at Days Ice Cream. As traditions go in 150-year-old Ocean Grove, this is a newcomer, having started in 2014.
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Background on cottages and tent camps
There are 23 cottages and 114 tent camps that are owned by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association and are rented out each year, mostly to repeat visitors who families have often been coming to Ocean Grove for generations for a summer religious camp experience. Many of the homes date back more than a 100 years.
The cottages are permanent buildings that are nestled among other homes and cottages in Ocean Grove. They blend in with the homes next door that are privately owned.
The 114 tent camps, on the other hand, are obvious and create a colorful and unusual vista along sidewalks and streets. Each tent has a bright awning over an outdoor porch. The living space is a
combination of a front room or "canvas room" that is covered by a canvas tent attached to large wooden outdoor structure and is closed to the elements by a door provided by each tenter (aka renter). The back part of the tent or "cabin" is a permanent structure that minimally includes a kitchen, toilet and shower. Because the tenters typically return year after year, they buy their own furniture and invest in upgrades to their cabins.
The cottages and tent camps are not winterized. Cottage renters return April 15 and the tenters return May 15 for the season. Everyone stays through September 15 so make sure to come in late spring and summer to see the colorful awnings and flags.
Want to rent a cottage or tent? With a waiting list of more than 300 people, it requires patience and persistence and willingness to have a chance to be part of a faith-based community. There is a "paper application" and an interview that takes places by the staff of Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to be considered for the list.
A longer pier once again reaching the ocean
Due to the double whammy of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, the Ocean Grove pier was partially demolished and no longer stretches out to the ocean as it did when it was constructed in 1889. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association has been raising funds to extend the pier and plans to start construction in 2022. The pier will be open to all with benches to sit and enjoy a view as the ocean waves break on the sand. You can contribute here to this effort and have your name or your family's name engraved on a board at the entrance to the pier.
Starting at the northern end of the Asbury Park Boardwalk and continuing through Ocean Grove, there's either a boardwalk or a promenade for seven miles. The pathway is interrupted by the draw bridge between Belmar and Spring Lake and then again a short bridge between Spring Lake and Sea Girt. In all of the northern part of the Shore, there's no better or more interesting pathway along the ocean for runners and walkers.
Tips for Visiting Ocean Grove
What's New: The Great Auditorium features a full schedule of events and activities.
Road Access & Parking: The main entry to Ocean Grove is along Route 71/Main Street. Flanked by stone pillars, there's an official looking entrance at Main Street. Parking is free but is often taken by visitors heading over to Asbury Park where it costs to park. The streets are very narrow, so drive cautiously.