SharkFest Honors 1916 Attack Victims
A new annual event called "SharkFest" was held this week on the 90th anniversary of fatal shark attacks in Matawan Creek, Matawan, NJ. The summer of 1916, a killer shark caused mayhem along the Jersey seashore, then wandered far inland to this bayshore town south of New York City. On July 12, 1916, the shark mortally attacked a 12-year old boy, Lester Stillwell, while he swam in the creek. A 24-year old man, Watson Stanley, jumped in to help Lester, and was also fatally bitten. The attacks were inspiration for the book "Jaws" and the attacks were chronicled in "Twelve Days of Terror."
To kick off Sharkfest, a memorial wreath-laying service was held at the local cemetery, with some relatives of the victims attending. Then it was time to head to the town's train station, with its shark-themed arts and crafts, food vendors, and where the TV movie "Twelve Days of Terror" was screened. There was also a rare opportunity to tour the historic location of the attacks at the end of Dock Street.
Local newspaper accounts in the Asbury Park Press and The Independent described the first SharkFest as successful, with larger-than-expected crowds, yet not disrespectful to the memory of Lester and Watson.
A long range goal of the town is to raise funds for a permanent memorial to the Matawan shark attack victims. The monument would be dedicated on the 100th anniversary in 2016.[07/20/2006]
- Garden State Pkwy exit 117, left on Lloyd Rd., left on Gerard Ave., left on Maple Place/Main St. Dock St. on right. Matawan Creek shark attacks occurred at the creek at the end of Dock St.
- Festival beached, asphyxiated.