BELMAR, NJ — Repaired and ready to return home, Belmar’s “Spirit of the Doughboy” statue will be welcomed back by the community with a 9 a.m. celebration on Friday, July 27 at Memorial Field.
As the iconic 88-year-old monument is carefully reinstalled on its pedestal, the Belmar Historical Society (BHS) will host a “coming home party” at the field commonly known as Doughboy Park, which is tucked underneath the Route 35 bridge between Seventh and Eighth Avenues at the railroad tracks.
It’s been nearly two years since unidentified vandals broke off the left hand and rifle of the life-size statue, which depicts a World War I infantryman and was erected in 1930 to honor the 102 men and women from Belmar who served during that war.
After a groundswell of support from the community, some $18,000 was raised to have the monument repaired and restored at the Seward Johnson Atelier in Hamilton — a process that has taken nearly three months at the workshop known for its highly acclaimed work at the Grounds for Sculpture.
“The restoration project was made possible thanks to the generous donations of individuals, organizations and businesses, both local and from other towns,” BHS said in a release announcing Friday’s celebration. “It was a remarkable outpouring of patriotism on the part of everyone who believes in preserving our history and remains dedicated to honoring the men and women who fought for our country.
“The base of the Doughboy monument honors 102 residents of Belmar who served in World War I, and the BHS would like to not only invite the public, organizations and businesses who donated to the restoration, but especially any family members whose ancestors’ names appear on the monument,” it continued.
As onlookers watch the statue’s reinstallation process unfold, patriotic tunes will be played and refreshments served, including doughnuts from Belmar’s very own Main Street Donuts at 705 Main Street.
While the festivities are slated to begin at 9 a.m., BHS advises to check its website for any change in time.
Once the Doughboy is placed back on its pedestal, a light and security camera will be placed on the treasured monument.
Meanwhile, the “Buy a Brick” program — for the memorial patio around the statue — is an ongoing fundraising effort for the monument by the Belmar Historical Society. The all-volunteer not-for-profit organization is dedicated to saving and preserving the history of Belmar and to promote history through educational programs. It conducts research and offers tours of the Belmar museum, located at 900 E Street in the annex of the Union Firehouse.
To learn how to “Buy a Brick” or to become a BHS member, contact 908-309-3380 or firstname.lastname@example.org.