Olympians to get the royal treatment Oct. 22 parade will honor local swimmer and gymnast

Staff Writer

By elaine van develde

Olympians to
get the royal treatment
Oct. 22 parade will
honor local swimmer and gymnast

MIDDLETOWN — The township is proud of its Olympians and it is hosting a parade to boast of their accomplishments.

It’s no secret that Tom Wilkens and Alyssa Beckerman, both Middletown natives, went to Sydney, Australia, for the world’s biggest sporting attraction. Wilkens, a 25-year-old swimmer, won a bronze medal in the 200-meter individual medley. Beckerman, 19, was an alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team.

Now, pending their homecoming, the mayor and Township Committee have just finalized plans for a parade in their honor.

"Everyone’s very excited," said Middletown Mayor Rosemarie Peters. "We’ve never had Olympians in Middletown before. Now there are two. It’s an embarrassment of riches, yet a thrilling experience to welcome these wonderful role models home. They’ve truly made Middletown proud."

The parade, which will take place on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m., will pass some places of significance in the lives of both athletes. Organizations marching will also embody hallmarks in both athletes’ lives, according to Peters.

In Wilkens’ honor, it will leave from the Middletown Swim Club on Harmony Road off Route 35. So far, local high school bands will march and play. Other participants include the Red Bank YMCA, where Wilkens swam as a child; St. Mary’s Elemen-tary School, where he completed his grade school education; Christian Brothers Academy, Wilkens’ high school; and assorted area fire departments and first aid squads.

A contingent of local dignitaries and elected officials will be present and speak at a ceremony following the parade at its final destination — Mater Dei High School stadium, Cherry Tree Farm Road.

Peters said that the pastor at St. Mary’s Church offered use of the Mater Dei facility. Wilkens did not attend Mater Dei, but the location is significant, as it is next door to St. Mary’s, his former elementary school.

Participants to honor Beckerman’s milestones haven’t been determined, as officials haven’t heard from Beckerman’s family yet.

Beckerman, a former Middletown High School South star, trained in Cincinnati, Ohio.