ATLANTIC CITY — The Boardwalk’s iconic rolling chairs and ice cream bicycles could, once again, give locals a chance to financially benefit from tourism and improve their quality of life.

The Rev. Eric McCoy, in partnership with Boardwalk Rolling Chairs, Ocean Rolling Chairs and Casino City Water Ice, has launched a program designed to get people off the streets and gainfully employed.

The program is designed to provide about 45 jobs to city residents who are identified as being at-risk youths, jobless and/or homeless.

“It’s not a panacea, but we have to create some kind of employment opportunities for the people that do want to work,” said McCoy, founder of God is Reaching Out Ministries and Atlantic City Police Department chaplain. “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist or have a master’s (degree) to do these jobs, you just have to have the will to want to work.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Anthony Smith was one of the program’s initial participants. Smith, 38, of Atlantic City, has a criminal record and works for a local linen company, which he did not view as a viable long-term job.

“It’s hard to get by out here because the jobs are limited,” Smith said.

Andre Vinson, owner of Casino City Water Ice, said he plans to make both ice cream bikes and stationary carts available for younger city residents who want to work.

Vinson said business and accounting classes also will be offered. He said he has about a dozen spots open for the summer, and his outreach is geared toward people ages 16 to 24.

“This is all about giving an opportunity to people in Atlantic City because there’s a real need for jobs right now,” said Vinson.

Between the two rolling chair operators, about 30 jobs will be made available for participants in the program.

McCoy estimated the funding required to launch the program will be $500 per individual, or $15,000 total. The figure includes the annual licensing fee, background check and drug test, as well as chair and uniform rental fees. Each participant will be obligated to contribute up to 10% of their weekly revenue to the project’s fund account until repayment of initial fees is satisfied.

Additionally, each participant will sign a contract with McCoy’s ministry, outlining their obligations and expectations to maintain active status in the program for funding purposes.

Ted Garry, co-owner of Boardwalk Rolling Chairs, and John Taimanglo, owner of Ocean Rolling Chairs, said they’ve had difficulty finding pushers because of how cost-prohibitive licensing has become.

The pair hope the pilot program will bring them more employees for the summer.

“The whole secret here is more employees, more locals,” said Taimanglo.

Garry said being a rolling chair operator was more than just pushing a wicker basket on wheels up and down the Boardwalk. He said operators need to be well-versed in the city’s history and current events so they can provide an invaluable service to riders.

“Rolling chair operators are truly the ambassadors of the Boardwalk,” he said.

Steve Young, co-founder of Black Men United, a coalition designed to promote equitable opportunities for blacks in Atlantic City, said the pilot programs will ensure that money created on the Boardwalk will return to the community.

“We’re going to tell these young brothers to get off the corners because we’ve got something for you to do,” he said. “You want to walk around all day? Go walk on the Boardwalk.”

Contact: 609-272-7222 ddanzis@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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