What does a water tower say about the place it serves?
That thought flashed into mind as I headed north on the Garden State Parkway, glancing momentarily over to Wildwood's newly-painted water tower.
There is no greater statement that a municipality can make than one proclaimed on its water tower. Slogans on water towers can be the cause of much public stir. Put a bad slogan a hundred feet up, and it's like an obnoxious tattoo. Every time someone passes and glances up, they'll see it.
Across the land, there are as many shapes of water towers as towns they serve. Some are like a golf ball, others like half a melon, while still others resemble cans atop pilings.
In this electronic age, it's puzzling that an electronic bulletin board for water towers doesn’t exist. Laser decorations projected on towers could be changed by the season, or to deliver messages.
The water tower in Court House, the county seat of this tourist mecca, is a bleached, wordless white. It could proclaim, "Marvelous Middle," "Middle's a Miracle," or something along those lines, but it doesn't.
Stone Harbor, ever conservative and low-key, has its water tower simply stating the borough's name in black letters. Such was not always the case. For a fleeting moment in 2006, a few of artist Peter Max's works graced the 150-foot-tall tower. Now, it's back to Stone Harbor.
Up north, on Seven-Mile Beach, in Avalon, the water tower hearkens to the thrilling days of yore, when air conditioning wasn't the norm, and sea breezes lured the masses to the seashore. It succinctly states, "Avalon Cooler by a Mile."
Travel to Sea Isle City, and happiness waits as one crosses the bridge onto Kennedy Boulevard from atop the water tower: "Smile You're in Sea Isle City."
Cape May County's northernmost city opens its arms from up where the air is rare and states, "Welcome to Ocean City NJ."
Woodbine's claim to fame is painted across its water tower declaring, "Woodbine Gateway to the Jersey Cape." That entry into the county will soon be the site of a traffic "round-about" (in the old days they were circles, but everything changes) which, it is vowed, will alleviate the traffic congestion at the intersection of Woodbine-Ocean View Road and Dennisville-Petersburg Road as vacationers head to parts south.
Lower Township's water tower in Villas states the municipality is "Home of the Best Sunsets." As with any wording, the words drew the ire of some residents early on. The other side sports a U.S. flag and LTMUA.
In Cape May, where Queen Victoria reigns supreme, the public is reminded "Cape May National Historic Landmark." Resplendent are the homes there trimmed in gingerbread (carpenter's lace) with narrow and high windows that helped capture cool sea breezes long before artificial cold air.
Also in Cape May, on the Coast Guard Base, is an orange-and-white striped water tower that boldly states, "Coast Guard." No razzmatazz, nothing showy, just plain military “Coast Guard.”
In North Wildwood, from its standpipe, passersby read "North Wildwood Welcome to an Island Beach Resort."
Heading south into Wildwood, the first water standpipe announces Wildwood with a colorful beach ball high in the sky. Just down New Jersey Avenue is the freshly restored Wildwood water tower, long under shroud, as workers transformed the mundane object.
Wildwood Crest takes the prize for advancing its water tower in to the internet era of technology by using its nifty Crest logo, with its website address: wildwoodcrest.org.
If the weighty decision were left to you, what would YOU emblazon on your town’s water tower?