dery-bennettBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

When Dery Bennett (left) started the American Littoral Society‘s New Year’s Day Beach Walk in the 1970s, his goal was to stoke public appreciation of coastal marine life and habitat at Sandy Hook.

Also, to demonstrate that there was still such a thing as free lunch.

Bennett’s gone, but the walk goes on, and lunch is still free.

To honor the society’s former executive director, who passed away a year ago this week, the ALS has renamed the annual trek the Dery Bennett New Year’s Day Beach Walk.

It  gets started at the society’s headquarters at historic Fort Hancock. Participants go for a “brisk walk” around Sandy Hook, ending where they started with hot dogs, hot chocolate and other free food.

There will also be door prizes and a chance to catch up on coastal news, said Eileen Kennedy, a spokeswoman for the society, which is celebrating its 50th year.

Bennett inaugurated the walk “so that people could start the year with their eyes on the coast and see that there is still such a thing as free lunch,” the society’s executive director, Tim Dillingam said in a release.

The walk’s free, donations are welcome, and participants are asked to bring a dessert to share. It gets started at 11a January 1 at the society HQ at 18 Hartshorne Drive. Dress accordingly for the weather, of course.

For more info, contact the society at 732.291.0055 or go to the ALS website.