BELMAR, NJ — “The Spirit of the Doughboy” benefit concert will be held tonight, August 8, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Shillelagh Club, 815 16th Avenue, Belmar.
Headlined by the Pat Roddy Band, the concert is a fundraiser for the iconic monument, which is in need of major repairs after it was vandalized nearly a year ago.
In recent months, the borough has been rallying the community to help raise the $17,000 needed to restore the statue to its original glory. Erected in 1930 to recognize 102 borough residents who served in World War I, the towering figure of the infantryman stands in Memorial Field on West Railroad Avenue, also known as “Doughboy Park.”
What makes the undertaking even more relevant is that 2017 marks the U.S. Centennial Commemoration of World War I, which the nation entered on April 6, 1917.
In addition to the entertainment, more than 20 restaurants and businesses are donating cold food platters or gift cards to the event. Belmar Historical Society member Pat Tecza has been orchestrating the food donation effort. To date, contributions are being made by: Beckman's, Cruz Bay Cafe, Don's Pizza King, Doughboys Authentic Wood Fired Pizza, Federico's Pizza & Restaurant, Hoagitos, Jack's Tavern, Jimmy's Pizza Place, Joe's Bagel & Grill, Klein's Fish Market & Waterside Cafe, Mike's Giants Submarines of Belmar, Sweet!, Sweet Tease Cafe and Bakery, and Waves on Main, as well as Tandem Bike Inn and Serenity by the Sea.
BHS is inviting attendees to bring any memorabilia from World War — letters, photographs, souvenirs, artifacts — to the fundraiser, where the society will display its own exhibit. It will feature a large poster of the Doughboy statue, the plaque that’s on the statue bearing the 102 names of the Belmar residents who served in the war, letters by service members sent to loved ones at home and a telegram that bears sad news.
Standing in the small park that is visible from the Route 35 bridge, the statue was vandalized in September 2016, when a portion of its rifle was broken off and it was loosened from its base. Because the monument is made of pressed copper, Belmar Historical Society has run into difficulties obtaining bids for the repair project — receiving only one with a hefty $17,000 price tag from a company specializing in metalwork restoration.
Since then, fundraising for the repair work has been sluggish — until a recent push by the borough that breathed new life into the effort. A new, dedicated link to “Donate to Repair the Doughboy Statue” on the borough’s website has raised some $2,500 in recent weeks.
Tickets for the benefit concert are priced at $25 in advance and $30 at the door. They are available at Nostalgic Nonsense Vintage Clothing, located at the corner of Main Street and Ninth Avenue.
BHS is also selling Doughboy T-shirts for $20 each at the event. Quantities are limited.
For more information about ticket purchases or making a donation, contact BHS at 908-309-3380 or send a Facebook message to Tecza, owner of Nostalgic Nonsense Vintage Clothing.
The Spirit of the Doughboy Statue: Standing Tall for Nearly 90 Years
Visible from the Route 35 bridge, “The Spirit of the Doughboy” statue is one of eight such monuments in New Jersey created by sculptor Ernest Moore Viquesney. The sculpture depicts a World War I infantryman advancing through the stumps and barbed wire of “No Man’s Land" with a rifle in his left hand and a grenade in his raised right hand.
Although World War I ended in 1919, the American Legion in Belmar spearheaded the effort to bring a Doughboy statue to the borough — an effort that came to fruition in 1930 during the monument’s dedication. Standing across the street from the building on Route 35 that once housed the veterans group and then borough hall, the statue was moved to its current location, also fondly referred to as “Doughboy Park.” Following its last refurbishment, the monument was rededicated in November 2006, according to records compiled by the Belmar Historical Society.
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