Katie Brong of Philadelphia shows off the drawing she did of the Jersey Devil complete with a recyclable bag for the front of her kayak in the Ventnor Go Green parade Saturday.

By Suzanne Marino

VENTNOR – The Nights in Ventnor Go Green Boat Parade returned to the waters around the city Saturday, Aug. 4. In its 10th year, organizer Diane Birkbeck said it has remained true to its roots.

“It is about eco awareness and finding ways to remind people to keep the trash out of the water and to be environmentally aware,” she said.

Birkbeck also said it is also about being green and having a lot of fun doing it. There were about 25 teams registered for the boat parade.

“They can really get very creative and as long as the entry is using green energy, including paddling, it works,” she said.

Gilda’s Club dragon boat led the way with its drummer keeping the beat for the squad of rowers.

The themes of the entries were fun but well thought out.

Mark Salzer was Poseidon, complete with triton in hand led a trio of mermaids whose theme was “Mermaids lives matter, don’t pollute.” Another trio took their inspiration from Harry Potter with the theme, “It doesn’t take a wizard to save the Earth-don’t pollute.”

Katie Brong of Philadelphia embraced the theme of keeping the environment healthy from the waterways to the Pinelands using a Jersey Devil theme. She mounted a drawing of the Jersey Devil on her kayak with a reusable bag and cleaning up trash.

“I wanted to use the Jersey Devil, the symbol of the pristine New Jersey Pinelands as a means of encouraging people to keep New Jersey green,” Brong said.

Along with her mother, Joyce Calliger and aunt Lissa Goldenstein Brong said they stopped into the Jersey Devil shop on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City and the store owner supported their green message and gave the team shirts.

Trudy Hammell-Festa and her husband Michael Festa were trying to come up with a theme for this year’s entry in the Go Green Boat Parade.

“We were sitting on the beach and a banner plan buzzed overhead and we decided we would come up with a way to make a green version of a banner plane,” Hammell-Festa said.

With her Amelia Earhart-like helmet and propeller mounted on her kayak along with faux wings, Hammell-Festa led the way, with husband behind toting a Dilly Dilly banner.

One of the most elaborate of the evening was the eight-member Gilligan’s Island team all dressed for their three-hour tour. They were the last to leave the launch at Ski Beach and though fighting a steady breeze, made the trek past the judges stand at Derby Hall and on to the Doc Holland Boathouse for a barbecue for the participants, revelers and the volunteers.

After the Go Green Parade boats passed the judges at Derby Hal,l they were met with the cheers of the crowd that gathered on the Dorset Avenue bridge to catch a glimpse of the kayaks, paddleboards and rafts as they passed under the bridge.

Nights in Ventnor Go Green Boat Parade winners


1st place – Trudy Hammel-Festa: Banner Plane

2nd place – Lily Wineland: Gondola

3rd place – Michael Salzeer: Poseidon (Stop polluting my ocean!)

4th place – Ilse Hanson: Dizy Duck Rosure

5th place – Alan Lipschitz: Gone Fishing with Lippy


1st place – Thor Nelson, Jack Shelly: Parrot Heads

2nd place – Jasmin Shelley, Katie Shelley: Hawaii


1st place – Joyce Collier, Katie Brong, Lissa Goldenstein: Jersey Devils Go Green

2nd place – Maggie Birkbeck, Duane Davidson, Jessica Birkbeck: The NO’s (No plastic bags, No plastic water bottles, No straws)


1st place – Sydney Matusen, Ainsley Matusen, Maya Hagan: Harry Potter – We don’t need magic to save the world!

2nd place – Lily Hagan, Kinsey Hagan, Addie Piola: Mermaids – Stop polluting our ocean!