By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
LONGPORT – The community gathered for an historic milestone Tuesday, March 7 as the Borough of Longport celebrated 125 years since its incorporation at a reception in Commission Chambers.
The event was the first in a series of events being organized by the Quasquicentennial Committee and the Longport Public Library to commemorate the history of the town, culminating with a Town Picnic for 1,000 of the borough’s closest friends on July 22.
Mayor Nicholas Russo recounted some important milestones that occurred during Longport’s year of incorporation, 1898, including the start and end of the Spanish American War, the U.S. acquisition of Puerto Rico and Philippines, Brooklyn merging with New York City, the launching of the first submarine and Steel Pier becoming the first amusement pier in the nation. Also, Kellogg’s cornflakes were invented, cheerleaders were first to wave their pom-poms in Minnesota and the first automobile speed record was recorded at 63 miles-per-hour, “the same top speed as my (electric) Fiat,” Russo said.
New Jersey Sen. Vince Polistina and Assemblywoman Claire Swift, who lives in Margate, spoke about their families’ histories in Longport, including Polistina’s grandfather serving as a commissioner and Swift’s memories of growing up and having fun with friends in Longport.
John Risley, chairman of the Atlantic County Board of County Commissioners, said the anniversary event reminds everyone of those who came before them and worked as mayors, commissioners, police, firefighters and emergency rescue workers and their contributions toward making Longport the pleasant hamlet by the shore it is today.
Lance Landgraf, who just 18 hours earlier was sworn-in as mayor of Ventnor, reminded Russo that early in his career as a planner, he worked with then-engineer Richard Carter.
“You have some of my blood, sweat and tears in the roads we got paved,” Landgraf said.
Russo said while the borough’s approximate 900 year-round residents can enjoy the surf and sand and quietness of Longport, its citizens rely greatly on their neighbors on Absecon Island and throughout Atlantic County for many of the necessities of life.
“We have no supermarkets, no schools, no doctor’s offices, no gas stations. We rely on you and we appreciate everything you do for us,” Russo said.
Library Board President Roy Law thanked library Director Ricky Gerhardt for organizing this year’s library events themed around the borough’s Quasquicentennial celebration.
“We’re excited for this year’s celebratory events,” he said.
The two main celebrations – the reception Tuesday and the community picnic planned for July – replicate events held during the borough’s 100th anniversary celebration in 1998, he said.
Friends of Longport mingled and enjoyed a light lunch of finger sandwiches, roasted vegetables and specially decorated 125th Anniversary cupcakes.
Afterward, participants walked next door to the Longport Historical Museum to view artifacts in themed rooms located throughout the historic building – which is likely the only building standing beside Borough Hall to maintain its original character.
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