Ocean Grove is a quaint community of Victorian homes and inns, narrow streets, and a strong religious history. It is home to a summer tent colony and the Great Auditorium, where jazz, doo-wop and Christian music are played on Saturday nights and preachers are at the pulpit on Sunday mornings.
Location: Ocean Grove is part of Neptune Township; it is bounded by Asbury Park to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Bradley Beach to the south and Route 71 to the west
Size: one-half square mile
Population: about 4,800
In 1869, William B. Osborn, a Methodist paster, founded Ocean Grove as a holiness camp meeting and Christian resort. That same year he and other leaders formed the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, and in 1870 secured a charter from the New Jersey Legislature, according to the Web site www.oceangrove.org.
The Camp Meeting Association established several "blue laws," banning ocean bathing on Sundays, the sale of alcoholic beverages within a radius of one mile, and the use of vehicles (carriages, bicycles, automobiles) on Sundays.
According to the Web site www.oceangrovehistory.org:
"President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant, in 1875, arriving by carriage on Sunday at the chained gates of Ocean Grove, simply tethered his horses and carriage at the gate and walked the half-mile on sand streets to his sister's house on Wesley Lake, then to the open air Auditorium where 5,000 children, adults and Civil War veterans welcomed him in voices of praise."
The blue laws were struck down as unconstitutional in 1979.
Highlights, activities, events
The community has the largest assemblage of authentic Victorian architecture in the nation, and is on both the national and state registers of historic places, according to the local Chamber of Commerce Web site.
Religion is still strong in the community. The Great Auditorium seats 5,500 people, and morning and evening worship services are held on Sundays. Pavilion Praise, a "contemporary worship service by the sea," is set up on summer Sunday mornings at the boardwalk pavilion, according to the association Web site.
Every May, 114 tents are erected near the Great Auditorium. The canvas structures serve as seasonal homes to generations of families who spend their summers in Ocean Grove, while others spend years on a waiting list to lease them.
There are all sorts of specialty shops in the community, selling such items as surfing supplies, collectibles, original art and gourmet candies. Some restaurants have outdoor seating in the summer.
While summer is the busy season, there are activities all year, from house tours to flea markets, an antique show to a teddy bear tea. The community holds a craft festival, stages a Civil War reenactment, and hosts a poetry festival. There is the February chocolate lovers weekend, the mother-daughter weekend in May, and the December Victorian holiday festival.
Jersey Shore Now.com