MANCHESTER, NJ — Summer is around the corner, and with that comes thoughts of the beach.

For Manchester residents who don’t want to deal with driving half an hour to Seaside Heights or Point Pleasant Beach, there’s the option of Harry Wright Lake.

Beach badges go on sale for the lake’s beach and recreation area beginning Memorial Day weekend for 2023, with season badges for $10 for residents and $20 for nonresidents, for anyone 13 or older. Children 12 and younger are free., and veterans who show their veteran ID pay half-price.

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The badges, along with daily badges, will only be for sale at the lake for 2023, the Manchester Township Recreation Department said. Daily badges are $5 for residents, $10 for nonresidents, and veterans again pay half-price but they must show their veteran ID.

The talk of beach badges always prompts the question: Why do people have to pay to use the beach?

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We did a little digging into the history in Manchester to try to find the answer.

According to a history of Manchester document compiled for the township’s 150th anniversary celebration, beach badges were first discussed for the lake — then known as Whiting Lake — in August 1964.

Whiting Lake, which was created out of a swamp and opened with a recreation area in August 1962, had become very popular in the two summers of its existence. The recreation area included a pavilion, and a diving platform was installed on the lake in 1964, according to Asbury Park Press reports at the time.

Because of its popularity, Portash made a recommendation that beach badges be given to residents to use the lake, to limit its use to town residents, according to the history document.

It’s not clear what year Manchester passed the ordinance instituting beach badges for the lake, but an April 1969 Asbury Park Press report says the township amended its lake ordinance to allow only residents and their guests at Harry Wright Lake and Pine Lake.

Residents were sold stickers for their vehicles for 25 cents each, which Wright, who was then a committeeman, said was strictly to cover the cost of printing the stickers.

The lake was renamed from Whiting Lake to Harry Wright Lake in January 1969 to honor Wright, who served as a township official for more than 20 years and worked for the Ocean County Roads Department.

Wright, who served as mayor (appointed by the other members of the committee) four times over his committee service and had been the person to come up with the idea to create the lake, according to old news reports. He died in October 1970, after he was found unconscious in the municipal building.

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For more information on the beach badges for 2023, beach hours and transportation to Harry Wright Lake for the beach (available on Wednesdays), check out the Recreation Department’s notice.

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