Resort towns across the Jersey Shore cut mile-long ribbons this morning as part of the state's $25 million Stronger than the Storm initiative.
Crowds gathered in places like Brigantine and Ocean City as local officials cut the blue ribbon symbolizing the Jersey Shore's return after Hurricane Sandy.
"Brigantine is a great place where people continue to come together, and this time it was for a happy event," said resident Sharon Lavinson, one of nearly 100 people who came out to that city's 16th Street beach. "That's what made this so special."
Gov. Chris Christie appeared on a special edition of NBC's 'Today' show filmed live in Seaside Heights. The Ocean County resort held it’s own ribbon-cutting event — with a 5-mile-long ribbon — with live music to celebrate the start of the summer.
“The Jersey Shore is in your heart,” Christie said to a nationwide audience Friday. “To see these guys reopen means everything to our state."
It's all part of a state-sponsored marketing campaign, including a 30-second TV spot starring Christie and his family, designed to show the state is ready for the busy summer tourism season.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno was on hand for Sea Isle City's ceremony.
"To see this much progress in so short a period of time gives you hope that we really will completely recover from the storm faster than anyone thought we would," Guadagno said.
If people want to help New Jersey, she said they should come visit places like Sea Isle City and tell their friends.
Christie is also expected to tour the Jersey Shore next week with President Barack Obama, a White House official confirmed yesterday. That would be the second time the pair appeared together at the state's beaches following October's destructive Hurricane Sandy.
In Brigantine, city officials cut the ribbon early due to the threat of rain. Overcast skies didn't dampen the optimism of those who attended the symbolic start of the hard-hit resort's summer season.
"Homeowners are well under way with restoring their lives and homes," said Mayor Phil Guenther. "It's especially important for people to know the shore is ready because the seasonal economy is vital for our businesses to survive the winter."
Guenther added that he's thankful for the state's support of beach towns like Brigantine. His town, for instance, has benefited from 630,000 cubic yards of sand for its beaches, obtained in part due to the lobbying efforts of state officials.
Ada Krebs, 50, a resident and Realtor for Brigantine's Prudential Fox & Roach, said the increased attention will hopefully dispel the myth that the town's homes and rental properties were so damaged that they aren't open for visitors.
"We're ready to go," she said. "Everything's up and running and it's going to be a great season."
Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi said the ribbon cutting is a great way to spread the word that his borough is open for business.
"We are anxious to showcase our community to families who want to enjoy a shore vacation," he said.
LOCAL RIBBON CUTTINGS
The Stronger than the Storm ribbon cuttings will take place thismorning. These are the times and places in local shore towns:
- Avalon, Boardwalk between 28th and 38th streets, 8:30 a.m.
- Brigantine, Ocean Avenue (along beach) between 14th and 36th streets south, 8 a.m.
- Ocean City, Boardwalk between Sixth and 14th streets, 8:30 a.m.
- Sea Isle City, Promenade between 35th and 47th streets, 8:30 a.m.
- Stone Harbor, 95th Street and the Beach, 8:30 a.m.
- Wildwood, Behind the Convention Center at 4501 Boardwalk, 12 p.m.