BELMAR, NJ — Does your family’s treasure trove of memorabilia include anything from World War I — letters, photographs, sovenirs, artifacts? The Belmar Historical Society is inviting you to bring these items to “The Spirit of the Doughboy” benefit concert on Tuesday, August 8.

That’s where the society will display its own World War I exhibit, featuring a large poster of the Doughboy statue that stands in Memorial Field on West Railroad Avenue, the plaque that’s on the statue bearing the 102 Belmar residents who served in the war, letters by service members sent to loved ones at home and a telegram that bears sad news.

Headlined by the Pat Roddy Band, the August 8 concert is a fundraiser for the ironic monument, which is in need of major repairs after it was vandalized nearly a year ago. The event will be held at the Shillelagh Club, 815 16th Avenue, from 7 to 10 p.m., with food being donated by the aptly named Doughboys Authentic Wood Fired Pizza, 507 Main Street.

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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. 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.

Erected in 1930 to recognize 102 borough residents who served in World War I, the statue of the iconic infantryman stands in the small park, also known as “Doughboy Park,” that’s visible from the Route 35 bridge. In September 2016, vandals broke off a portion of its rifle and loosened the towering figure from its base.

Because the statue 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 the following locations:

  • Belmar Museum, 900 E Street (annex of the Union Firehouse), which is open Monday, 2 to 4 p.m., and Thursday, 10 a.m. to noon.
  • Nostalgic Nonsense Vintage Clothing, located at the corner of Main Street and Ninth Avenue.
  • Salon Marsal, 708 10th Avenue (closed on Monday and Tuesday).

Make checks payable to Belmar Historical Society, which will also accept checks by mail at: Belmar Historical Society, P.O. Box A, Belmar, NJ 07719. Advance purchase tickets will be held at the door.

For more information about ticket purchases or donating food or refreshments to the event, contact the Belmar Historical Society at 908-309-3380.

Note: Roselle Park is one of eight municipalities in New Jersey that have Doughboy statues. 

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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