151-year tradition: Tent Colony goes up in Ocean Grove

A tradition dating back 151 years restarts in Ocean Grove this week, amid the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, and as workers hoist up more than 100 tents in the historic Jersey shore community, summer will go on.

News 12 Staff

May 14, 2020, 10:43 AM

Updated 1,435 days ago

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A tradition dating back 151 years restarts in Ocean Grove this week, amid the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, and as workers hoist up more than 100 tents in the historic Jersey shore community, summer will go on.
"It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood," says Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association President Michael Badger.
Badger taps Mr. Rogers' iconic spirit as he looks at the progress crews make once again reassembling Tent Colony in the shadows of the great auditorium. 
Meanwhile, 80-year-old Beverly Hubbard is all set to depart her retirement home in Toms River and return to her tent, just as she has every summer since she was 5 years old. 
“My both children grew up in a tent,” says Hubbard. “My youngest daughter married from a tent, and my mother was here and we were very active.”
A peculiar lifestyle rooted in Methodist fellowship post-civil war times when settlers looked for a quiet retreat cooled by the ocean breeze. But what about the risks? Tents sit only a few feet apart from each other. 
“We see the masks people wear protecting them, the canvas is a lot sturdier than any masks, people are going to need to know when they sit on their porch if they were to do so, mindful of their neighbors to be more than six feet apart,” says Badger.
The Ocean Grove Tent Colony is made up of 114 units, and attached to each one is a rear cabin where the facilities, the running water, things of that nature, are located. It takes work crews about one month to construct.

Hubbard, who prefers the title "Mother Hubbard," says social distancing will remain a theme even at her simple summer retreat.

“I know we are very interesting to a lot of people, but my daughter is going to put a sign on my porch [that says] ‘no coming on my porch’,” says Hubbard.

“It’s kind of you step back in time when you come to Ocean Grove,” says Badger. “It’s a Norman Rockwell moment and people you can hear your neighbor in the tent next-door if someone sneezes you say, ‘God Bless You,’ so we really just have to have this tent colony come back together again.”

Changes are anticipated with summer activities in Ocean Grove. The move in date for tent residents has been pushed back to June 1, the choir festival was rescheduled to the end of August, and community leaders will make a decision on the annual 4th of July parade next month.
 


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