Bravo Zulu Coast Guard Community of Cape May County
Unless you are waking from a winter’s slumber, or returning from a Florida vacation, you undoubtedly heard that Cape May was designated a Coast Guard Community by the United States Coast Guard this past weekend. Admiral Paul Zukunft himself came to Cape May to make the proclamation, approved by an act of Congress.
The Admiral recalled his first visit to Cape May as a recruit in 1974. He also reminded us that the first revenue cutter sailed into Cape May Harbor in 1791. Proclaiming Cape May (County) a Coast Guard Community makes it only the second time in our Nation’s history such a designation has been bestowed. The first time in Camden County Georgia.
Cape May County’s designation as a Coast Guard Community reflects the deep and enduring nature of the relationships that the region’s residents share with Coast Guard personnel, families, and visitors. The designation is recognition of what the Cape May community does for the Coast Guard including how we treat personnel and in part how we receive the numbers of families visiting Cape May each week to attend graduation at the training center.
“We have seven different tenants here at Training Center Cape May, so this is actually critical mass for us in the State of New Jersey and just north of here in Atlantic City,” said Zukunft. “The fact is this community looks out for my Coast Guard.” Via the Admiral’s social media channels.
The Proclamation Ceremony kicked off a three-day festival spanning from Friday May 8 to Sunday, May 10, which honored Coast Guard personnel and their families, as well as celebrated and educated visitors regarding the many deep connections that exist between the Coast Guard and Cape May County.
Saturday’s event particularly, was one of the most well run and executed festivals Cape May has seen in a long time. Many locals remarked via social media channels that it was their first time ever on the Coast Guard base. Captain Todd Prestige, Commander of the Training Center at the Coast Guard Base estimated that as many as 6500 visitors were “on-board” the base on Saturday.
Once past the understandable heavy security, one felt as though they were entering special territory.
Coast Guard Cutters were open for tours. Smaller craft from environmental response teams entertained younger children clamoring to get aboard. Saturday was certainly for the community not just the brass and politicians. Everywhere you walked on the base people were enjoying themselves. People felt ( I think) special for the day as guests of the U.S. Coast Guard. It was a long over due feeling for the community.
On Saturday, the festival included live music, extensive historical and cultural exhibits, children’s activities, and a BBQ with brews from Cape May Brewery in a traditionally controlled beer garden. A specially brewed Coast Guard IPA was available for the occasion.
To the festival organizers, the steering committee members, and the execution partners–a job well done. It’s never easy for one organization to pull off a great event, let alone an ensemble of organizations. Bravo Zulu to the Coast Guard and Captain Todd Prestidge. Look forward to more Cape May City businesses on the execution committee next year.
Featured PHoto: (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nick Ameen)