Seaside Heights' storm damage has become its own attraction
Seaside Heights is a place of Jersey Shore lore, which includes MTV making a mockery of summer shore life on "Jersey Shore."
But the images from the damage Hurricane Sandy caused also have created lore, drawing tourists throughout the winter to take pictures of a roller coaster sitting in the ocean.
Casino Pier, which suffered catastrophic damage during the storm, had been home to the Jet Star roller coaster. And despite the damage, the pier will be partially open, said Toby Wolf, spokeswoman for Jenkinson's Boardwalk, which owns the pier. About half of the pier's 34 rides will be operating while crews continue to rebuild and renovate the upper portion of the pier, Wolf said.
Recovery for those Boardwalk businesses that sustained major damage has been slower. Mitch Green, who owns Adrenaline Body Piercing & Tattoos, has been unable to open since the storm, which left several feet of sand in his store on the northern end of the town. A zoning quirk, which ties his tattoo parlor permit to the address, has meant he can't do tattoos anywhere else on the Boardwalk unless Borough Council approves.
And while Casino Pier will be operating in a diminished capacity, as will the company's Go-Karts, the rides at Funtown Pier, at the southern end of the Boardwalk, will be dark, with the owner planning to reopen in 2014.
Businesses throughout town have posted signs noting they are open. The Bay Breeze Motel and the Seaside Sands Inn are both open and awaiting reservations. Popular restaurants and clubs, including Hemingway's and the Bamboo Bar, have been open for weeks.
Signs on other businesses have tried to capture the disaster tourists. "Come, see the rebuilding of the Boardwalk. Take Great Pictures!" announces one sign on the side of Lucky Leo's arcade.
Ronny Yefet, who owns Regent & Company, has been open since March but has only been able to use a side entrance until the Boardwalk is fully open.
"This rebuilding of Seaside Heights was the fastest I've ever seen," Yefet said of all the natural disasters he's heard about in the U.S. "It's going to be OK. We're going to be open."