The celebration of Father’s Day and the opportunity to place wagers on all types of sports were the featured activities this past Sunday at Monmouth Park.
Dads were admitted free to the horse park, which drew a crowd of 23,768 on a sunny and warm June 17 day in Oceanport.
Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy signed Assembly Bill 4111, allowing sports betting at New Jersey casinos and racetracks for certain professional and collegiate sports or athletic events.
That action attracted visitors to pour into Monmouth Park’s sports betting lounge to place their wagers.
Brian Hines and his father, Kurt, have been coming out to Monmouth Park on Father’s Day for the last six years. The two got there early to sit in the sports lounge and place a few bets on the FIFA World Cup before the races began.
“It’s enjoyable here, it’s a fun day,” said Brian Hines. “We see a lot of people here and it’s so convenient, we live in Monmouth County, so it’s down the road. Plus, dad helps me win some money, so it’s good.”
Free live music was provided from Jersey Shore’s own, Tim McLoone, featuring the Shirley’s. Free family activities were also made available and children enjoyed inflatable slides and castles as well as games throughout the park.
Eugene Melody who usually golfs with his son every Father’s Day, decided to change the pace a bit and come to Monmouth Park to check out the sports betting.
“It’s Father’s Day and my son brought me out here, we thought we would check out the sports betting before the races had started,” said Melody. “I like it. It’s very pleasant and well set up. It has great service, it’s a nice place and they have good food and drinks, I like it. We wanted to see the novelty of this and we came to check it out and enjoy the day.”
The chance to place bets on all sorts of athletic events was what lured Paul Diomede to the park.
“I’m going to bet on some baseball games,” said Diomede. “I’m picking the [San Francisco] Giants and [Atlanta] Braves to win their games, I’m putting the bets in and leaving. I think it’s great. It has been a long time coming. I think this is going to help the state and the park a lot.”
Chris Casale was joined by his entire family for their second year in a row at the park to celebrate Father’s Day.
“It’s Father’s Day here, and there is soon to be 28 of us,” said the Red Bank resident. “This is our second year here on Father’s Day. It’s a good time. We really had a good time here last year and we brought a few more people to come with us this year, so maybe it’s something that we can look to do every year.”
Standing with his father, Saverio, Casale, reflected on what the day meant to him.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I’m with my dad, I’m with my kids. I’m with my cousin and his dad, the whole family is going to be here. It’s a good opportunity to get together and have some fun.”
Walking into the park with his two young sons hanging off of him, Robert Gaida, looked to enjoy his Father’s Day with the entire family.
“We did this two years ago and a few years before that,” said Gaida. “It’s a good time and a fun day for the whole family. We love to see the horses and have some lunch and we have a good time. My dad is here, my cousins are here, the whole family. It’s a good time for all of us to get together with one another and we do it every year. This is a good time to come out and hang out and it’s something different.”