Going green at the Jersey Shore: Take a dip in a sea of a different color
ALLENHURST — It's not the product of pollution or an overabundance of algae. It's a manmade spectacle, done on purpose by the same family for more than 70 years.
Continuing the longest tradition of its kind nationwide, the ocean in Allenhurst will turn a unique shade of green over Labor Day weekend. As long as Mother Nature cooperates for just a little while.
Oakhurst resident Gail Matarazzo, along with her sister, will have the task of dropping 10 pounds of dye into the sea Saturday afternoon. The dye starts as an orange powder, but once it hits the water, a "brilliant emerald green" emerges and everyone's invited to jump right in.
Matarazzo is the third generation carrying on the tradition. It began when her grandfather dropped dye in the ocean to celebrate his daughter's birthday in 1943.
"Some people look at it as good luck," Matarazzo said of the green ocean.
To others, it signifies the end of summer or the beginning of "local summer." The unique hue can also represent the halfway mark to St. Patrick's Day.
Depending on the wind and tide, the change in color can last in the ocean for up to 90 minutes and spread a solid distance towards Asbury Park or Deal.
"Every year we have to get a Department of Environmental Protection case number," Matarazzo said. "It gives us the clear, the go-ahead."
It's perfectly safe to swim with the EPA-approved dye. You may just have some scrubbing to do when you dry off.
The wild change in color can be viewed from the Allenhurst boardwalk. The standard $10 daily pass fee would apply to anyone interested in watching from the beach or from the water itself.
The 73rd ocean dye was originally scheduled for Sunday, but concerns over the effects of storm system Hermine moved the event to Saturday at noon.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.