Peace … love … music … plus a good amount of tie dye and a heck of a lot of weed. It’s hard to believe it, but it’s been 50 years since Woodstock — the infamous weekend-long music festival that changed history back in August 1969. Five decades have passed since an army of young music fans filled Yasgur’s Farm with a message of hope and a passion for rock music. While the event attracted a crowd estimated to be around 400,000 people, not everyone who drove to New York state actually made it to the show.
“I tried to go,” says Dennis Loughlin, a retired teacher now living in Smithville (and, full disclosure, my dad.) “It was the second day of the concert. We got stuck in a massive traffic jam on the ride up because they closed the (New York) Thruway. But it was an amazing time. All the people who were stuck in their cars got out and we all had a big picnic together on the side of the road. I remember sharing a big bowl of spaghetti that my buddy’s mom had made for us. We didn’t make it to the concert, but it felt like we were part of it anyway.”
Others had better luck.
“Me and three of my friends got there the night before and stayed at my aunt’s house,” says Ted Bagnato, a former engineer from Hoboken. “The whole weekend was incredible. It wasn’t just about the music — although that was great. It was a feeling of this giant mass of humanity all being on the same wavelength. The rain, the mud — none of it mattered. It was magical. We thought we were going to change the world, and in many ways we did.”
Though some of the ideals of the counterculture movement of the 1960s may seem somewhat quaint and dated today, the overall messages of the time are still worth celebrating. Here are a few ways you can do that, right in South Jersey.
Find your inner peace at a beach yoga class. Yoga instructor Teri O’Connor hosts beach yoga events all summer long in Sea Isle City. And her classes are not just for those with experience. “Many new to yoga find it easy to focus and connect to peace because the sounds of the ocean, the feel of the sand, the smell of salt air and the sunshine allow you to tap into your senses and take you away from your thoughts,” O’Connor says.
Classes are $10 and held at 7:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from May through September at JFK Boulevard Beach. Go to NJBeachYoga.com for more info.
They say “love is all around us,” and for the 50th anniversary of Woodstock folks can make that general concept a reality by attending the group vow renewal at Morey’s Piers in Wildwood. At 1 p.m. Saturday, May 4, Jack Morey, partner of Morey’s, will officiate a vow renewal ceremony for 50 couples under the Giant Wheel on Mariner’s Pier. “Married couples entered a contest (which ended April 22) to be a part of our Wild Wedding Vow Renewal and those selected will have the opportunity to celebrate their marriage milestones and the ‘roller coaster of love,’” says Maggie Warner, spokesperson for Morey’s Piers.
Each winner will receive ride passes valid for Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5, plus a $50 dining card.
The event is free to attend. Mariner’s Pier is located on the Boardwalk in Wildwood. Go to MoreysPiers.com for more info.
Though the original Woodstock Festival leaned heavy on rock and folk acts, the bands that performed were so influential that even the jazz community took notice. From 7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, at Clancy’s By the Bay in Somers Point the South Jersey Jazz Society will present a jazz tribute to the music of Woodstock with a performance from guitarist Sheryl Bailey. Bailey will perform songs from acts such as Jimi Hendrix, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Santana and Jefferson Airplane.
“Great tunes transcend style, so many of these songs are such strong melodic vehicles that it’s natural to play them in a jazz format,” Bailey notes.
Tickets to the show are $10 for SJJS members and $15 for non-members. Clancy’s By the Bay is located at 101 E. Maryland Ave. in Somers Point. For more information go to SouthJerseyJazz.org.
The “age of Aquarius”
Woodstock was originally billed as “An Aquarian Exposition,” tapping into the astrological aspects of the counterculture movement. Those looking to tap into that world again can head to Tropicana 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4, when “The Jersey Shore Medium” Linda Shields will perform. Shields is known for her psychic powers and in particular her ability to give and receive messages from those beyond the grave. Tickets to the show are $25. Go to TheJerseyShoreMedium.com for more info.
A shared celebration
Woodstock is not the only thing turning 50 this summer. Morey’s Piers in Wildwood will celebrate the big 5-0 as well and are actually tying it in to the whole Woodstock theme with their very own three-day festival called “WildwoodStock.”
WildwoodStock will run from Friday to Sunday, May 3-5, and will feature live music, kids’ activities and a variety of themed treats and goodies including free samples of their exclusive Dippin’ Dots Anniversary Flavor, Sea Salt Caramel Piertzel.
The occasion will also feature a special brew from Cape May Brewing Co. called Wild Wooder. Brewed to commemorate 50 years of Morey’s Piers, the light-bodied, hoppy Kölsch has an approachable, yet intriguing flavor profile. It features notes of straw and hay, a fresh, subtle bitterness, and — according to the folks at Cape May Brewing — “unparalleled drinkability.”
Single-day ride passes are $24.95 for those 48 inches and above and $19.95 for those 48 inches or less. Three-day weekend ride passes are $39.95 for those 48 inches and above and $34.95 for those 48 inches or less.
“What better way to kick off our 50th Anniversary season than with a big celebration full of love, music and rides,” Warner says. “WildwoodStock was the perfect name, celebrating our ’69 roots of where it all began in Wildwood.”
Morey’s Piers is located at 3501 Boardwalk in Wildwood. Go to MoreysPiers.com for more info.
For the dogs
OK, so it may be a while from now, but this year Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City will host Woofstock Atlantic City. The event runs from 4-9 p.m. Friday Aug. 2 and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3.
With nearly 100 vendors, this celebration of dogs, art and music will play host to speakers, demonstrations, live music and podcasts, plus lots of food and libations. The best part? You can bring your dog! Showboat is a dog-friendly hotel and all dogs are welcome to attend the festival as long as they are well behaved. Tickets are $7 for Friday, $10 for Saturday and $15 for a two-day pass. Kids 12 and under get in for free. Showboat Hotel is located at 801 Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Go to ShowboatHotelAC.com for more info.