ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – To celebrate the new fireboat, Marine 85, at Atlantic Highlands Fire Dept, Atlantic Highlands borough and the AH Harbor Commission are going all out to showcase what  we can do with ‘Boats at Work’! Our highly popular ‘Deck the Dock’ program continues again this year with the theme, “Boats at Work”.

This is a very fun event, not only for Atlantic Highlands boat owners, but also for the crowd in attendance for the Fireman’s Fair and the AH Fireworks. Boats and entire piers compete for prizes. Past displays included lights, costumed characters, statues, balloons, music, dancing, even people and pets, and all kinds of imaginative props! Eligible boats are only those registered in a slip in Atlantic Highlands harbor. Categories and prizes are the same as last year. Judging will take place both Friday and Saturday nights, July 2 and 3, with winners announced Saturday July 3 at 11 PM. Winners do not have to  be present to win.

Decorated boat from 2009 Deck the Docks.

About this year’s theme:

The Harbor Commission each year sets a theme for Deck the Docks. This year we celebrate the new Atlantic Highlands Fire Department fire boat, Marine 85. Since this is a ‘working boat’ rather than a ‘pleasure boat’, we have appropriately set the theme as “Boats At Work”. Although this is not specifically a patriotic theme, exhibitors are encouraged to express patriotic thoughts consistent with the theme, considering the Independence Day holiday. Boat owners are given the freedom to interpret and express this theme as they like, to allow for a wide variety of expression.


As this is a family-oriented competition sponsored by the borough and corporate donors, offensive displays are not allowed and will not be judged.


Competition rules:

  1. A ‘maritime display’ is a boat or a pier that is decorated.
  2. Maritime displays may include the boat, the pier, other structures, people/kids, furniture, etc.
  3. A boat competing in the Pier category also may be judged individually in a Lit or Unlit category. If the intent is not clear, the exhibitor should make their intent clear to the judge.
  4. No boat owned by an AHFC member may compete, although they may be decorated. Some other boats are corporate or group owned, and may be decorated but should not be judged. The judges will be informed of the slips to skip.
  5. Any other boat and other slips of that pier which are decorated may be considered as ‘in the contest.’
  6. No judge may accept any libation or gift from anyone associated with maritime display being judged.
  7. The boat owner should ensure their slip number and boat name are clearly identified.
  8. The judge may talk with the display creators about their display – how put together, creative process, etc.
  9. A ‘pier category’ for a ‘maritime display’ is defined as two or more boats in a coordinated display.
  10. Each judge scores each maritime display individually while walking the piers.  The judge should walk all 7 piers.
  11. Scoring involves impressions and analysis of the ‘maritime display’ based on the criteria below.


Daytime (UNLIT) – Lights are not specifically required in this category. If present they should be considered simply as part of the overall display, not alone. This category should be judged in full daylight.

  1. Impact of display (catches the eye, ‘curb appeal’)
  2. Originality of theme
  3. How well the display uses daylight
  4. Creative incorporation of color to convey theme
  5. Creative incorporation of texture to convey theme
  6. Creative incorporation of motion to convey theme
  7. Creative incorporation of sound to convey theme
  8. Creative incorporation of video or other media
  9. Spatial display quality
  10. Creative incorporation of humans in display
  11. Quality of integration of all elements of presentation (how well does it all work together)


Night-time (LIT) – Lights are a required element and these should be judged after dark.

All categories as above should be judged. In addition, the lights are to be considered as a separate display element.

  1. How well the use of light enhances and contributes to understanding of the theme
  2. Size of light display
  3. Quality of lights used
  4. Impact of lights on message



Piers should be judged both in daylight and at night since the pier displays present elements of both.

In addition to the above for day and night:

  1. How well is the theme carried through between boats
  2. Apart from theme, how well do the boats integrate in terms of
    1. Color
    2. Light
    3. Sound
    4. Other presentation elements?

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...