She’s amazed by her bottle’s 24-year voyage

Heidi Kay Werstler was 6 in the summer of 1985, when she entered a "Message in a Bottle Contest" in Ocean City, N.J. The bottle was recently found in North Carolina. In the background is the Music Pier from which the bottled was launched.
Heidi Kay Werstler was 6 in the summer of 1985, when she entered a "Message in a Bottle Contest" in Ocean City, N.J. The bottle was recently found in North Carolina. In the background is the Music Pier from which the bottled was launched. (Peter Mucha)
Posted: November 30, 2009

"I just can't believe it finally surfaced after 24 years. Also, I just can't believe the plastic lasted that long."

Heidi Mozzo was speaking of a green soda bottle recently washed up by nor'easter in North Carolina - completing a 300 mile journey from Ocean City, N.J., that began with her entry in a "Message in a Bottle Contest" in 1985.

The Shore town figures she's the winner - even if the contest officially ended Aug. 1 that year.

The Claymont, Del., mother will not only a big box of Shriver's saltwater taffy, but a free several-day stay, said city spokesman Mark Soifer.

Today, she accepted his invitation to be a special guest, along with husband Anthony and daughter Emily, 2, during town's First Night celebration on New Year's Eve.

The town will also have its end-of-year run into the ocean - "the polar bear thing," Soifer said - but Heidi won't be taking part.

"Oh no," she said. "No. That's not for me."

In the summer of 1985, Heidi Mozzo was 6-year-old Heidi Werstler of Earlville, Pa., enjoying her family's yearly O.C. vacation.

She and a friend from the beach pestered Boardwalk merchants until they found a bottle for the contest.

Heidi's mom, Bonnie, filled out the form that went inside, and her father, Harvey, made sure the cap was on extra-tight.

The bottle was dispatched, with at least a dozen others, either from a boat or off the Music Pier at Moorlyn Terrace, Soifer said.

Mozzo doesn't remember who gave her the bottle, and didn't see it launched.

"I remember that Channel 6 was there, because they were interviewing kids that were there, but I never made it on TV," she said.

Then, a couple of week ago, the bottle was found by a worker at Sanderling Resort & Spa in Duck, N.C., on the Outer Banks. The resort contacted Soifer's office, per instructions on the form.

Mozzo, who processes payroll for a large corporation, said she hasn't been to Ocean City for years, because recent coastal getaways have been to Myrtle Beach, S.C., popular with her in-laws.

But she still fondly recalls Ocean City's rides, fries, funnel cake and Mack & Manco's pizza.

She's also hoping her equally surprised mom can go. After all, she filled out the form that started the bottle's great adventure.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|