BARNEGAT, NJ – In existence for almost a quarter of a century, Barnegat’s “Day on the Bay” returns on Sunday, July 28th. At the invite of the Barnegat Recreation Disability Advisory Board, those with special needs are treated to free boat rides.

During yesterday’s Township Committee Meeting, organizer Walt Fernandez shared some anecdotal stories about past experiences. “We see a lot of people crying,” he admitted. “But, not necessarily because they’re unhappy.”

Fernandez recalled the grandmother who teared up at a “Day on the Bay"  event a few years ago. “She never saw her grandson laugh,” he shared. “Apparently, the boat ride brought him joy.”

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Another individual with special needs came back crying after a ride on the bay. “We figured he was upset because he was soaking wet,” said Fernandez. “It turns out that even though he lived at the Jersey shore, he never tasted saltwater.”

About the “Day on the Bay”

Sherer’s Boat Basin hosts the "Day on the Bay", scheduled from 11am until 2pm. Some come from as far as four hours away to enjoy boat rides on either the bay or the lagoon.

In past years, as many as 200 special needs children and adults participants have enjoyed the opportunity to take a ride out on the water. Several go out multiple times.

Boaters from the community volunteer their time and vessels. “I think the captains have the biggest smiles during the event,” said Fernandez.

Those requiring electric or manual wheelchairs should not be deterred from attending the “Day on the Bay.” Accommodations are available for both. Companion animals are also welcome.

The Barnegat Police Department participates in the “Day on the Bay.” They assist special needs individuals with obtaining photo identification cards. The Barnegat Registration cards provide background information, which is logged into computer databases.

In the event of medical emergencies, Quality Ambulance keeps a rig on the scene. The Township provides insurance to cover the event.

More Information Available

Those with over 6 people in their group or someone using a wheelchair, should get in touch with Walt Fernandez prior to July 28th.   Contact him by phone at 609 290-8741 or by email at wjfern@outlook.com.

Anyone wishing to donate time, boat or fuel to give rides can call the Barnegat Recreation Department at 609 698-0080 x 130.

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and the Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing service.