sandyhook-npsThe beaches and walkways of Sandy Hook’s northern tip in winter are the subject of the 39th annual New Year’s Day Beach Walk, hosted by the local chapter of the American Littoral Society.

Somewhere between the stale aftertaste and inevitable comedown of New Year’s Eve — and the litany of resolutions that begins with a groaning “never again” — there exists an opportunity for locals to truly hit the “refresh” button on the lifestyle routine. Even if you’re stopping just short of taking the Polar Bear plunge, you’ve still got a chance to take in a couple of lungfuls of bracingly frosty air and truly experience some extraordinary scenery, courtesy of the Sandy Hook-based regional chapter of the American Littoral Society.

Named in honor of the Society’s late director who initiated the annual tradition, the 39th Dery Bennett Memorial New Year’s Day Beach Walk commences at 11 am on Thursday, January 1st from 18 Hartshorne Drive (aka Building 18) in the Fort Hancock area of the Hook. Littoral Society naturalists conduct the free, public-welcome walk that proceeds from the Society’s headquarters, out to North Beach and beyond — and, while at the tip of the Hook, the group will attempt to communicate with Northeast Chapter coast walkers, across the Bay in New York.

Read More »


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.

Read More »


barbara-bennettBarbara Bennett at the pond at Fair Haven Fields natural area to be named in memory of her late husband, Dery Bennett. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)


It must have seemed right to someone, because the idea was floated: call the pond in the preserve area of Fair Haven Fields “Derickson Waples Bennett Pond.”

But to Barbara Bennett, the suggestion was a misguided attempt to pay tribute to her late husband, who passed away December 15 at 79 years old. Not only would it bother her, but it would likely leave visitors wondering, “Who the heck is Derickson Waples Bennett?”

“I said, ‘Oh no, that’s not it at all,'” Bennett said. Because nobody besides perhaps his mother and the tax man knew who Derickson Waples Bennett was. “Dery,” on the other hand, rings a bell with the locals and many tuned into the environmental scene, and often elicits a smile or a fond memory.

That’s why Barbara Bennett is happy with the simplicity of “Dery’s Pond,” which will be the new name of that spot in the woods she and her late husband spent decades visiting at least once, and often three times, each day. The borough council plans to introduce an ordinance making the name change official on Monday.

Read More »