Jingles Bait and Tackle owner Margaret O'Brien, of the Beach Haven Park section of Long Beach Township, launched a Facebook page to save the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic from being cancelled in the fall. On Wednesday, organizers reversed a previous decision to step away from the tournament this year.

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The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that it would continue running the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic, reversing a decision that had jeopardized the event’s 58-year tradition.

Business owners, fishermen and Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini had spoken out Monday against the chamber’s decision to discontinue running the event.

Following the furor, the chamber met with members of the tournament committee to discuss plans for the event in October to discuss a more gradual transition that would see the chamber run the fall event this year, and a transition take place the next.

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“For this year we’ll be acting in the same capacity as we have been in the past as far as organizing and running the event,” Chamber President Chris Schwab said Wednesday evening.

The chamber will work with the tournament committee over the next year to make the transition for them to take over administrative duties with the event for 2014, Schwab said.

Schwab said for the last six years the chamber has told the committee that they needed to begin incorporating the administrative portion of the event into their planning process because the chamber was no longer able to organize and run the event.

Michele Cuff, the chamber’s office manager, wrote in an email last week to the tournament committee that the organization’s Board of Directors had to make decisions on how the chamber could best meet the demand of the environment, following Hurricane Sandy.

The Board of Directors that the Chamber of Commerce could no longer continue its role of organizing and running the LBI Surf Fishing Classic, Cuff stated.

“It’s happening this year and we are going to continue doing what we’ve been doing in the past. Everyone wants it to happen and the chamber will support it fully,” he said.

Margaret O’Brien led the charge to continue the event after the chamber said last week they would be pulling out of organizing and running the tournament. O’Brien and Mancini said by the chamber discontinuing running the tournament it sent the wrong message to the public about the readiness of the island following, Hurricane Sandy.

Mancini had said on Monday that Long Beach Township was committed to picking up the planning of the event for this year if they had to.

O’Brien expressed relief after meeting with the chamber earlier Wednesday.

The chamber made the decision to stop organizing and running the event earlier this month without consulting the committee, she said.

“It’s good for us, but they should have had a meeting with us to begin with. If they would have told us we would have gladly taken the planning over,” O’Brien said.

Schwab said chamber staff is committed to helping with the transition to the committee for planning the event next year.

O’Brien said members of the committee and chamber brainstormed about the upcoming tournament in October, including funding for the event.

“We will do whatever we have to do to go out on our next year. We will be meeting again next week because we want to get all of this done before we get busy for the summer season,” O’Brien said.

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Follow Donna Weaver on Twitter @DonnaKWeaver


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