It was six years ago when people piled onto the Sea Bright municipal parking lot to get and give help in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
“Beautiful” was one word used by many to describe the memorial paddle-out off Sandy Hook on Sunday for RFH alum Bill Caldwell — avid surfer, skateboarder, craftsman and lover of the water and animals who lost his hard-fought battle with pancreatic cancer on July 20.
When, exactly, surfers started celebrating the life of their kindred waterborne spirits in this way is unknown. Still, it has become a steadfast tradition — an unspoken promise, a way to honor one another.
Call it a floating memorial honor ceremony. An apt remembrance in the place where the hearts of these souls of the water are thought to rest. Their peaceful eternity. That’s what a paddle-out is. That’s what Bill’s was.
“I’m glad to have taken part … you’ll never be forgotten,” said Caldwell’s RFH Class of ’78 classmate Chris Wood, owner of Woody’s, where one of Bill Caldwell’s surfboards hangs.
“A powerful send off to a great friend, loved and admired by all,” said RFH classmate Peggy Miller. “RIP Bill Caldwell.”
Encapsulated, it was a “beautiful day to pay tribute to a beautiful soul,” another classmate, Ginger White Tassinari said.
Rest in peace, Bill, Billy, Wilbur … You are remembered.
The following is a slideshow in memory of Bill Caldwell through the years …
— Elaine Van Develde
— Thanks to Bill, Ginger White Tassinari, Peggy Miller, Chris Wood and George Day for the photos.
Fair Havenite and Sea Bright Woody’s Ocean Grille owner Chris Wood knows what havoc is wreaked by a superstorm hit.
He and his waterfront restaurant/bar weathered Sandy. Not only that, but Wood, a/k/a Woody, a longtime Rumson-Fair Haven area resident and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School graduate, in the wake of Sandy started Sea Bright Rising in the Sea Bright municipal parking lot with a grill, some burgers and the help of his head chef Onofrio Moscato.
Looking back on his own Sandy experience, he offers, via a Facebook post, a calm-down perspective on Joaquin:
“As I look out my window right now at Woody’s I see the ocean and two news teams. Then I listen to those news people say, ‘Prepare for Joaquin’ or ‘Joaquin is barreling towards us.’ This is FAR from the truth.
“Unfortunately, we’re experiencing a very strong Nor Easter type storm (High pressure system meets Low pressure system coming up coast)…This is VERY common for us in Sea Bright.
“What is uncommon is the expected duration. (It may last 2 + days)……So unfortunately there will be some major beach erosion, high winds, rain and some coastal flooding. We’ve seen this before and yes it sucks…..
“But call it what it is and stop terrifying people by saying this is related to the Hurricane Joaquin. IT IS NOT. THANKFULLY it looks like that storm will pass.
“1: Hurricane Joaquin is STILL 1200 miles away as of 8am
2: The rain and wind we are experiencing now STILL has ZERO to do with Joaquin. (see above)
3: Joaquin has no similarities to Sandy at ALL…Thankfully NONE
4: The 5am National Hurricane Center has the eye drifting MUCH further East .The probability cone NOW has left front quadrant about 400 miles offshore…(this would be what impacts us if anything and it’s a weaker area of the storm)
5: The Front Right Quadrant is where the strongest winds and surge occur ….these will be HUNDERDS of miles to the East of NJ (this is one reason Sandy was so bad…we got the brunt of the front right quadrant along with lunar high tides)
6: Joaquin is not expected to be close to NJ until very early Monday. (still 4 days away)
7: The models STILL continue to trend East and we should have NO impact from Joaquin other than higher surf.
8: Time will tell and the models will probably change so watch NOAAs Hurricane Tracker and don’t believe all the hype.
9: Pray for the people in The Bahamas. They’re STILL getting hammered and will need help!”
Woody’s Ocean Grille owner and Sea Bright Rising creator Chris Wood has earned a place in documentary history.
The Fair Havenite and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School graduate won a Telly award for his part in a documentary on Sea Bright Rising and the non-profit’s partnership with the St. Bernard Project.
Wood, or Woody, as he is more widely recognized, thanked “Sean Moran, Viacom, MTV and VH1 for doing such a great job documenting Sea Bright Rising and our partnership with the St Bernard Project,” in a post on his Facebook wall about the award, which he said was a surprise to him on Thursday night.
Wood started Sea Bright Rising in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Surviving the storm better than most in Sea Bright, a small strip of a then near-flattened peninsula town, he and his head chef, Onofrio Moscato, started flipping burgers on a grill in the municipal lot next to the restaurant to feed whoever they could.
What started out as a bite to eat and a little comfort quickly turned into three meals a day, clothing, toiletries, incidentals, a U.S. Air Force tent under which cooking was done and then the National Guard rolled in on official duty to help. The effort grew to fundraising to fix Sandy-ravaged homes under the monicker of Sea Bright Rising.
To date, Sea Bright Rising has raised more than $1.3 million and distributed more than $1 million of it to 300 families and 18 businesses in Sea Bright, according to its website.
By Elaine Van Develde
The Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) Class of ’78 has a problem.
Classmates have no concept of the passage of time — ahem … their age. They partied for three days without skipping a beat. The party started on a Friday night in August of last year with some cocktails and dancing at Woody’s then Even Tide in Sea Bright.
What 70s dance do you think this trio was doing? What song were they dancing to? Was there even a song?