POINT PLEASANT BEACH – Pulling a 1,200-foot rope through Manasquan Inlet in a competitive showdown isn’t easy.

But the rewards are so sweet: bragging rights and a mayor’s trophy for the winner of the Manasquan Inlet Intracoastal Tugboat, which pits Manasquan against Point Pleasant Beach, two seaside towns divided by the 450-foot-wide cove.

The annual showdown began in 2018, but did not take place in 2020. On Saturday, the rivalry between Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach resumed. In the last set, Manasquan broke the tie to win 5-4.

Lance Nero leads the Manasquan Fire, Police and EMS team.  The Manasquan Intracoastal Tug is held in Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach.  Competitors try to win a standoff in which the rope crosses Manasquan Inlet.  All proceeds from the event go to Pt. Pleasant Beach and Manasquan Recreation Services.  Manasquan, NJ Saturday October 9, 2021

“Manasquan and Point Beach have been in a rivalry for years,” said event organizer Geoff Brown. “It’s just a fun event for the two cities to come together and fight for a bit.”

“We kind of call it the battle on the bridge,” said Ryan Simunovich, chair of the Point Pleasant Beach recreation department.

The Manasquan Inlet Intracoastal Tugboat, which was sponsored by Jersey Mike’s Subs, raises funds for Point Pleasant Beach and Manasquan Recreation Services, and raised donations for Make-A-Wish New Jersey.

Volunteers work to place a large rope across the entrance.  The Manasquan Intracoastal Tug is held in Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach.  Competitors try to win a standoff in which the rope crosses Manasquan Inlet.  All proceeds from the event go to Pt. Pleasant Beach and Manasquan Recreation Services.  Manasquan, NJ Saturday October 9, 2021

“What makes it so unique is that Point Pleasant and Manasquan share this cove, and I think it’s a source of pride for both parties,” said Simunovich.

“Being able to do something so unique, where you have a full showdown, not only makes it really special for our city, but I think it’s a great way for our community to come together after the season (d ‘summer) over. “

Jake Hegna leads the Manasquan rescuers to victory.  The Manasquan Intracoastal Tug is held in Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach.  Competitors try to win a standoff in which the rope crosses Manasquan Inlet.  All proceeds from the event go to Pt. Pleasant Beach and Manasquan Recreation Services.  Manasquan, NJ Saturday October 9, 2021

The battle unfolded over a series of nine rounds. Each team had 25 members who faced their counterparts across the water. The teams included emergency responders from Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach, lifeguards, radio stations and fitness facilities.

The team that pulled the 15-foot rope won the round.

They couldn’t see each other, but they could certainly feel the attraction of each other.

“It’s a lot harder than you expected,” said Sean Curry, a member of the Point Pleasant Beach High School alumni team. “You really don’t know when to start pulling, and it’s a pretty long rope, it’s tough.”

“When you stop you don’t realize you’re going to stop, so everyone falls,” Curry said before his team were ready to go up.

Curry also participated two years ago. “You have two very good communities that are so close to each other, but so unique in their own way,” he said. “You have a lot of families and you have a lot of very good local roots here.”

John Stypa of The Training Room, Manasquan and Avon-By-The-Sea, leads his team to victory.  The Manasquan Intracoastal Tug is held in Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach.  Competitors try to win a standoff in which the rope crosses Manasquan Inlet.  All proceeds from the event go to Pt. Pleasant Beach and Manasquan Recreation Services.  Manasquan, NJ Saturday October 9, 2021

Mike Manzo, COO of Jersey Mike’s Subs, sided with Point Pleasant Beach in the battle between the chain’s Ocean County stores and those in Monmouth. (Ocean won this round.)

“It’s a big event,” Manzo said. “Look at the crowd on the Manasquan side and look at the crowd here at Point Beach, it’s really amazing.”

During a heat between first responders in Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach, two 6-year-olds from Make-A-Wish, who wanted to be police, joined in the standoff.

“In my 20 years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more unique (event) than this,” said Tom Weatherall, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish New Jersey. “We encourage teams to shoot harder and win, but at the end of the day everyone wins today.”

David P. Willis: [email protected]


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