Next Exit Shore Guide (week of July 17 – July 23)

Rainbows and a four leaf clover, islands east and west, a silver chalice, a centenarian pachyderm and a river teeming with wooden boats of yore… the stuff of fantasy? Nope. It’s just another week down the shore.

Atlantic City

Billed as the largest Mid-Atlantic gay and lesbian beach party, Sandblast Weekend comes to Atlantic City for the first time this weekend. It had been held in Asbury Park for the past 12 years, but relocated because organizers felt AC could better accommodate the party’s growing attendance.

Hosting Sandblast is also part of the city’s new marketing strategy targeting the LGBT community. Just last month AC’s openly gay mayor, Don Guardian officially designated Park Place Beach as LGBT-friendly, in acknowledgment of its informal history as such.

With the exception of two parties, Sandblast organizers have divided the 3-days of festivities by gender. On Friday afternoon, the fun begins with a men’s volleyball tournament, followed by the weekend’s kick-off dance party at the Chelsea Hotel for both genders. A separate late night men’s event, the Urge Underwear Party, happens at the Claridge Hotel.

Saturday, men can participate in a drag race and handbag toss at 11:30 a.m. In the afternoon, women compete in their own volleyball tournament, Lez Volley. Also on the beach, attendees can shake their groove thang by the ocean during a 7-hour, mixed gender dance party at the Bungalow Beach Bar. Late night features the Deep Blue dance party for men at Resorts Casino’s Superstar Theater and White Party dance event for women at Borgata’s Mixx nightclub.

The weekend draws to a close with an all-day pool party at Harrah’s and closing party at Caesar’s Dusk Nightclub for the men. The Borgata will host gaming and a Ladies Tea Dance at mur.mur nightclub just for women. Friday, July 18, noon to 4 a.m.; Saturday, July 19, 7:30 a.m. to 5 a.m.; Sunday, July 20, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.- various locations, Atlantic City, N.J.

On Saturday afternoon the Atlantic City Caribbean Carnival Parade will strut down the boardwalk. Watch performers in colorful costumes accompanied by the sounds of steel drums, Calypso and Tassa. The parade will be led by Miss Caribbean United States 2013 and sets off in front of Revel Casino at 11 a.m. Afterwards, the party continues inside the Howard Johnson Hotel in West Atlantic City where there will be vendors, food and a concert from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. with headliner Destra Garcia. Saturday, July 19, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. – Boardwalk, Atlantic City and Howard Johnson, 8029 Blackhorse Pike, West Atlantic City, N.J.

The Holy Grail of ice hockey, Lord Stanley’s Cup, will be on public display for free in the lobbies of Harrah’s Resort and Caesar’s this week. On Thursday, fans can view the trophy and meet 2014 NHL champions, the Los Angeles Kings and their assistant coach (and former Philadelphia Flyer) John Stevens. On Friday, the Cup moves to Caesar’s lobby for viewing. This year’s NHL MVP Justin Williams (another former Flyer) will also make an appearance.

Those in town for the Sandblast event might be interested to know that the Stanley Cup made an appearance in the 2010 Chicago Gay Pride Parade as tribute to the late Brendan Burke. Burke, the son of Toronto Maple Leafs and US Olympic Hockey Team general manager, Brian Burke, was openly gay and a strong advocate for ending homophobia in professional sports. Thursday, July 17, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. – 777 Harrah’s Blvd.; Friday, July 18, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. – 2100 Pacific Ave., Atlantic City, N.J.

Margate City

Margate’s Lucy the Elephant celebrates her 133rd birthday on Saturday. The National Historic Landmark will mark this milestone with a carnival-style Midway and amusements, including a water slide, rock climbing wall, dunk tank and moon bounce. Event volunteers and staff will be sporting commemorative mustaches. Attendees can get their own temporary ‘staches inside the dedicated Mustache Tent. Tours inside Lucy will be offered very half-hour with proceeds going towards the landmark’s improvement and operating costs. Free parking will be available at the Union Avenue School Playground with a complimentary shuttle service to Lucy running every 15 minutes. Saturday, July 19, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (rain date July 20) – 9200 Atlantic Ave., Margate City, N.J.

Toms River

Sure, ice cream (with rainbow jimmies!) can be enjoyed year round but is there any time better than summer? This Saturday Toms River will be hosting the 12th annual NJ State Ice Cream Festival. Admission is free, but a tasting kit which allows samples of all the flavors and a vote for your favorite will only set you back $7. Frozen treats will be served up by competitors from local, regional and national ice cream shops. For those with bottomless pits for stomachs, there will be two sessions of ice cream eating contests for both kids and adults. Sounds of the Street and the Tidal Wave Band will provide the festival’s live music. Saturday, July 19, 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – Washington St., Toms River, N.J.

Also happening this Saturday, just a block away, is the Toms River Seaport Society’s 38th Annual Wooden Boat Festival. The free, family-friendly affair will be held along the waterfront at Huddy Park where numerous classic and antique wooden boats will be on display both on land in and the water. Families can learn to build their own wooden kit boat and children can have fun building model boats. The Valhallas Pirates, a local reenactment troupe, will be ashore to entertain. Saturday, July 19, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Huddy Park, Toms River, N.J.

Ocean City

It’s the fifth year for Ocean City’s annual Tribute to the Philippines. The two-day festival got its start in 2010 as a way to honor the sister-city relationship between Ocean City and the Philippine city of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

The event will feature performances on the boardwalk by Philippine folk dancers and musicians. There will be Filipino dishes like lumpia, adobo, pancit and halo-halo to sample. Philippine Nurses Associations will provide free blood pressure and blood sugar screenings to Music Pier guests.

Ocean City’s own Air Circus will be on hand to give yo-yo demonstrations. Did you know that the modern day yo-yo was invented by Filipino immigrant Pedro Flores in 1928? His design, based on a centuries old Philippine toy, evolved into the childhood classic. Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Music Pier, Boardwalk and Moorlyn Terrace, Ocean City, N.J.

Cape May

The annual 4-H Fair and Chicken BBQ returns to Cape May Courthouse this weekend. The three-day event features a variety of 4-H youth projects, livestock shows, a children’s pet show, live entertainment and amusement rides. This year the fair will also introduce a few new activities.

The first new event occurs on Thursday. “Throwback Thursday… where have all the 4-H Queens gone?” is a salute to past 4-H Fair Queens. Between 1954 and 1996, the fair crowned a queen each year. These ladies will ride in the 4 p.m. parade and take part in the grand opening ceremonies that follow.

On Friday, check out a new 4-H Fair performance by 15-year old country musician and Ventnor native, Mia Bergman as she and her band join the evening’s main stage entertainment lineup.

Also new to the fair is Saturday’s antique car show. Other activities new this year include a farm market, the scales & tails herpetology club showcase, camel rides, wagon train rides and a chainsaw art demonstration.

The fair’s traditional chicken barbecue dinner will be served up each night at 5 p.m. General admission is free. Tickets for the chicken barbecue cost $13 for adults and $7.50 for kids 12 years-old and under. Thursday, July 17, noon to 9 p.m.; Friday, July 18, noon to 9 p.m. and Saturday, July 19, noon to 10 p.m. – 4-H Fairgrounds, 355 Courthouse-S. Dennis Rd., Cape May Courthouse, N.J.

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