MARGATE – About three dozen fifth graders at the Eugene A. Tighe Middle School hopped on their bicycles Thursday morning for an educational tour of the city.

In addition to learning the rules of the road, a police escort brought them safely to the Margate City Police Department and Historic City Hall at the corner of Washington and Ventnor avenues.

After parking their bicycles inside the firehouse bay, they rotated in small groups to tour the Margate City Fire Department on the second floor of the stately brick building and the Margate Historical Society on the lower level.

While in the firefighters’ living quarters, they learned the general operations of the department, which includes firefighting the emergency medical services. Firefighter David Funk explained a new section in the meeting room that holds PPE (personal protective equipment) for firefighters and EMT response during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Downstairs, historical librarian Gwen Meade talked about the founders of Margate, which was once called South Atlantic City. Among the interesting artifacts is a group of ballot boxes from the very early days of voting in Margate. Meade relayed a factual story about a candidate for NJ Senate who sued to overturn election results because a secure metal ballot box malfunctioned for several hours on Election Day and poll workers collected ballots in a cigar box.

In the courtroom, students listened to oral historian John “Tall Tale John” Alvarez of Cape May tell some true stories about pirates, Paul Bunyan and the great fire of Cape May, which he said was the impetus for forming volunteer fire departments along the New Jersey coastline.

Students received a police escort back to the school where they enjoyed pizza, drinks and ice cream.

Categories: Margate

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.