Sam Ballam was 19 when this photo was taken in the summer of 1969. He is holding a board purchased for $100 from the Surf n’ Sand Shop, which was located at Eighth Street and Atlantic Avenue. The board is now on display at the Ocean City Historical Museum.
The Ocean City Historical Museum has planned an exhibit for summer 2016 that will detail the history of surfing in Ocean City.
Surfing has been an integral part of life in Ocean City for over half a century.
The Ocean City Historical Society is looking for photographs, surfboards, wetsuits, posters, advertisements, interviews, newspaper articles and videos contribute to the upcoming exhibition. Community members interested in lending surf memorabilia can contact Jeff McGranahan by email at [email protected], by phone at 609-399-1801 or by Facebook message on the Ocean City Historical Museum page .
The exhibit could be a precursor to a future full-time Ocean City Surfing Museum, although a 2014 proposal to incorporate the Ocean City Historical Museum, the Ocean City Beach Patrol Historical Exhibit (currently housed at the Bayside Center on the Bay between Fifth and Sixth Streets) and a collection of Matera family surfboards and surfing memorabilia in a single location in the downtown Stainton building will not advance.
Surfing in Ocean City took off in the 1960s. Ocean City Recreation Director Don Pileggi embraced surfing as a sport and started the Spring Fling surfing contest. Around this time, the Ocean City Surfing Association was formed and the Turkey Trot surf competition began.
George Gerlach and Dan Heritage opened two of the area’s first surf shops: Surfers Supplies and Heritage, respectively. Both community members were inducted into the First Class of the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame and the Class of 1996 of the East Coast Hall of Fame. The tradition of surfing lives on with each new generation of students competing on the Ocean City High School surf team, and some even transition into the professional ranks.