Iconic Spot: Beaching it at Donovan’s on Memorial Day Weekend

No sooner did NJ Gov. Phil Murphy sanction opening beaches for Memorial Day weekend than management at the iconic Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright announced that only those with season badges would be permitted on the beach at their back door.

And no sooner did the badges go on sale than they were sold out. In fact, they were sold out before they even opened for sales.

According to some Sea Bright residents, the line started forming outside the decades-long iconic spot at 4 a.m. on Friday — without 6 feet of distance between patrons. Sales were set to open at 11 a.m.. The “Sold Out” notification went up at about 8:45 a.m.. Donovan’s will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday with food and drinks for sale from its snack bar and two outside bars. Its hours will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m..

Fair Havenite Tom Kirman, while shopping in Sea Bright, got a snapshot of the stagnant line for season beach badges at 9 a.m. on Friday, a few minutes past sold-out time.

With the governor’s restrictions on parking and beach goers, Sea Bright officials have reduced parking by up to 20 percent for municipal lot serving its public beachgoers. Donovan’s has limited parking.

The small peninsula borough will have a beefed up police presence on the beaches designed to keep beachgoers educated about maintaining proper social distancing with patrol vehicles on the beaches. There are public bathroom restrictions in Sea Bright set at three allowed in at one time. Mask use is encouraged.

The badges for Donovan’s, sold at $100 per badge with a limit of four badges per person, are only for admission on the beach at Donovan’s. Those with badges for Sea Bright Public Beach will not be allowed to migrate over to Donovan’s turf in order to comply with state and local social distancing mandates.

There will be no live music “until further notice,” management said on Facebook.

Donovan’s has long been a traditional hang-out spot for RFH grads. In the past, there were no seasonal beach badges or fee to be admitted to Donovan’s and the beach behind it.

As tradition dictated, all past RFH reunion parties were taken to Donovan’s for at least one night. That tradition has gone out with the Superstorm Sandy tide, as once the iconic spot was rebuilt, at the usual summer reunion time, crowds and fees to enter made it a more unlikely choice of a traditional spot at which to reunite and reminisce.

RFHers, however, are known to still frequent the spot and host various events there in the off season, including celebrations of life.