SEA ISLE CITY — City officials and current and former lifeguards came together Saturday for the unveiling of a plaque at the Beach Patrol headquarters to honor the lifesaving outfit’s 100th anniversary.

The plaque sits on the wall of the headquarters at 44th Street and the Promenade and reads “Celebrating 100 Years of Lifeguarding. In Commemoration of the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol’s 100th Anniversary. Founded on July 11, 1919.”

“The lifeguards do a great job for us each year,” said Mayor Leonard Desiderio. “For 100 years, we have such a storied Beach Patrol here, and every one of them gives their all.”

The plaque unveiling was the latest of a number of commemorative events honoring past and present lifeguards throughout the year. In addition to a parade and other ceremonies, a special 100th anniversary beach tag was created to honor the Beach Patrol.

“They do such a great job of protecting us each year, and they do it without too much fanfare,” Desiderio said. “They’re dedicated young men and women, and we just wanted to go above and beyond to tell them how much we appreciate them and what a great job they do.”

Beach Patrol Chief Renny Steele, 69, has been on the patrol for 50 years. To him, being a lifeguard is “one of the most rewarding things you can experience.”

“To have a mother come up to you and say, ‘Thank you for saving my child,’ the gratitude, the look in her eyes, the quivering voice … it’s very, very warming,” he said.

He said people view being a lifeguard as more than a job, but a life experience.

“Over the years, people identify themselves to me as a Sea Isle City lifeguard, former or present,” he said. “Everybody feels this is a very important, worthwhile job and very rewarding. It’s a lifetime friendship, a sisterhood or brotherhood, that you really need to experience to understand.”

Michael McHale, 74, a former lifeguard, lieutenant and captain of the city’s Beach Patrol from 1965 to 1977, said he became a lifeguard because he liked the excitement of it.

“I liked to swim, and I liked the exercise,” he said. “And I liked dealing with the people. It was a neat town and a lot of families use the beach, so we felt that it was an honor to be a lifeguard to protect those people.”

He also likes how the city respects the Beach Patrol and how the lifeguards always try to keep the standard high.

“I think we have the safest beaches in South Jersey,” he said.

Contact: 609-272-7239

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