By Noelle Carino
September 7, 2017
Toms River, NJ – Gary Santos of Lindenhurst, NY visited Toms River, NJ earlier this year. While he was here, he visited the site of the USS Randolph’s anchor near Huddy Park. If you have been to the site, you will remember that the anchor is surrounded by personalized pavers – an initiative of the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce decades earlier. Mr. Santos and his family wanted one of those pavers for a very special reason. When he reached out to Craig Ambrosio, Director of Toms River Parks, Buildings, and Grounds, for more information about securing one, Craig connected him with the Chamber.
The request was simple: Mr. Santos wanted a personalized paver. The meaning was deep: his recently deceased father had served on the USS Randolph.
The challenge was that the downtown paver project had been completed years and years earlier, and it was not clear how anyone could resurrect it – if only for the Santos family.
The request kicked-off months of collaboration between the Township and the Chamber to see that a man’s wish to honor his father’s memory became a reality.
The USS Randolph
Emails between Noelle Carino, CEO of the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce, reached the dozens. Carino and her team at the GTRCC had recently launched the Military Banner Tribute Program (www.troopbanners.com/tomsriver) in partnership with the Toms River Business Improvement District. The timing of this request was no coincidence.
In one email, Gary Santos wrote, “That ship meant so much to dad. He was only on the Randolph from 1944-46, but the ship was with him for the rest of his life. We comforted him in hospice with pictures of the Randolph. It’s a shame we never knew the Randolph’s anchor was in NJ. He would had been consumed with emotions reuniting with an old friend.”
Gary went on to explain that he had created a website dedicated to the USS Randolph which includes information about the Toms River anchor (https://prosperosantos.wixsite.com/websiteussrandolph).
Toms River Parks, Buildings, and Grounds located a stone which they in-turn cut to fit the paver space and presented to the Chamber. From there, the stone was shipped across the state to get engraved by Mike Bull and his team at Paver Art, LLC (https://www.paverartllc.com) who then returned the stone to Toms River. Craig and his team installed the stone in a prominent location near the USS Randolph anchor.
The paver lovingly reads:
Gary Santos and his family visited the site of the anchor on Saturday, September 2, 2017. He and Noelle had a wonderful opportunity to connect and talk in depth about the meaning the anchor had in his father’s life.
To learn more about this and other GTRCC initiatives, please contact
Noelle Carino, CEO
Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce
1027 Hooper Avenue
Building 1, 2nd Floor, Suite 5
Toms River, NJ 08753