LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP — Officials pulled out all of the stops Saturday during the Long Beach Island Thank You Fest, and hip-hop star Sean Kingston took the stage at the Long Beach Township Municipal complex field.
“We want to thank the first responders who worked over here during the storm,” Kingston told the crowd during the performance.
Torre Stanish, 11, of Barnegat Township, came prepared to meet one of her favorite performers, Kingston, and to salute her father, Long Beach Township Police Patrolman Mark Stanish, at the event officials said drew about 10,000 people Saturday.
“I’m so excited to see him. I’m so nervous,” Torre said as she clutched her phone waiting to snap a shot of Kingston.
Torre wore knee socks with the Jamaican flag colors and a Kingston T-shirt. She waited in the parking lot of her father’s police department as Kingston was preparing to climb out of his black Cadillac Escalade.
“I was scared when my dad was over here working. I was glad when he came home, and I’m relieved that things are so much better here now,” Torre said.
Township Mayor Joseph Mancini worked with sponsors in the community for the past several months to organize the event for first responders and members of the community for their support eight months after Hurricane Sandy.
“I told all the first responders who came here to help that I promised I would bring them back to Long Beach Island to enjoy it here after the storm. And we brought them back,” Mancini said.
The township and a group of sponsors raised more than $100,000 to bring members of the National Guard and 23 Louisiana State Troopers back to Long Beach Island, where they worked a detail in the weeks after the storm.
Officials said the troopers and National Guard members were more than satisfied to see how far the island and community has come since the storm.
“I think our entire community, local government and police department appreciate seeing all of these people again, and we have significant respect for what they did for our community,” Long Beach Township Police Chief Michael Bradley said.
Tara Burgess enjoyed the sunshine Saturday afternoon and thought of her father, Lonnie, who was displaced from his Long Beach Township Beach Haven Terrace home for five months after the storm.
“It’s really good to see people back and everyone in the community coming together. It’s amazing, especially after what everyone has gone through,” Burgess said.
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