There was rain and a ruined cake, but the tent at the end of the Steel Pier was packed for the amusement park’s celebration of the completed first phase of its $100 million construction project.
By 2015, the seasonal pier is slated to be an enclosed year-round entertainment complex.
Tony Catanoso, a principal in the new ownership group, thanked the large group of attendees that included Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford, Assemblyman Chris Brown and Casino Reinvestment Development Authority head John Palmieri.
Catanoso bragged about this year’s new additions to the pier.
“We’ve got eight new rides,” he said. “We've got all new food and beverages. We've got areas where adults can have a drink. And entertainment.”
Langford congratulated Catanoso.
“The name Steel Pier, to our generation, is synonymous with one thing,” he said. “That one thing is fun. With the investment that you have made, the next generation will be able to have that word resonate with them in the same way that it meant to us.”
Buddy Valastro, star of the TLC television show “Cake Boss” supplied the cake for the event. He made a 5-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide cake that looked like a carousel. He called it amazing. But he couldn’t show it off.
“On the way over, we had an accident,” he said. “No, it's not TV. It's real. The cake got a little destroyed in transit.” He said that cake toppled because it was not built correctly, but he supplied sheet cake from his bakery.
Valastro spoke highly of Atlantic City. “I remember coming here as a kid with my parents,” he said. “And we want to repeat that for our kids, in the next generation, because at the end of the day, that's what Steel Pier is all about.”
Rain kept the rides closed during the ceremony, but kids found ways to stay amused. Charlotte and Audrey Blocher, 8 and 5, of Vienna, Va., pushed each other in turned-off bumper cars.
“I kind of don't want it to rain,” Charlotte said.
Anne Raso, of New York, N.Y., remembered seeing The Temptations play at Steel Pier in 1969.
“It was an awesome show,” she said. “I can still see it, and I was 8½.”
She said that she’s impressed with some of the new rides.
“I'm really happy that they brought it back,” she said. “I'm happy to see that they have rides for, not little kids, but that 8 to 10 range. There's some real classics here, like that sea dragon. Love that. I like the medium roller coaster, that mouse ride.”
It was Ashley Badders’ first time at the pier. She looked forward to riding the slingshot, but the rain stopped that too.
“It's pretty awesome,” said the Cape May Court House resident. “Just the fact that they got all of this together, and it was just kind of a big deal.”
Badders said she would definitely be back.
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