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Jersey Shore After Sandy: What's Open for Summer 2013

Hurricane Sandy devastated our precious Jersey Shore. Beaches were battered, boardwalks destroyed and people displaced. The Star Jet roller coaster in Seaside Heights, which still sits in the Atlantic Ocean, is an eerie reminder of the landscape- and life-changing storm. It has taken some time, but the shore is rebuilding and coming back in a major way. Many businesses are open or beginning to open and most beaches plan on being open to the public by Memorial Day weekend. Here’s some information to help your NJ family plan for a spring and summer at the Jersey Shore plus resources on how to help. Let’s all lend a hand in “restoring the shore!”

Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, has been a family-friendly vacation spot for many years. Hurricane Sandy brought much damage to the entire area, including the boardwalk. Parts of the boardwalk were damaged, along with the ride area and Jenkinson’s Aquarium. After months of renovation, the boardwalk reopened in late January. On February 1 the beloved aquarium and gift shop and sweet shop opened again, as well. The following day other favorite spots like the Pavilion Arcade, Frank’s Fun Center and Pavilion Fast Food opened to the public. The ride park reopened, to excited crowds, on Saturday, March 23. They plan on having everything fully-operational by the time summer arrives! So, get the family and grab some boardwalk fries and a Kohr’s custard and celebrate.

Atlantic City’s Steel Pier opened for the season on March 23, 2013. Although the hurricane was predicted to hit AC head-on, the city only sustained minimal damage. “People mistakenly believe that the damaged boardwalks and amusement piers they saw on broadcast news programs were in Atlantic City, which is not true.” This $100 million renovation is only in the first phase. The pier will debut eight new rides this year, including a 200-foot ferris wheel with climate-controlled cabins (expected to open in the fall) and The Mix. For additional information on what to do in Atlantic City, click here.

The most memorable images of the Jersey Shore right after Sandy were probably those of Casino Pier in Seaside Heights. Who will forget seeing the Star Jet roller coaster sitting in the Atlantic Ocean? Yes, Seaside got hit pretty hard, but they refused to give up. After the mile-long boardwalk was destroyed, the people of Seaside and other organizations, such as Rebuild Seaside, took action. Construction has begun on the new boardwalk and officials are confident that it will be finished by Memorial Day weekend. Lucky Leo’s Amusements has been open for business – it was one of the few businesses still open in Seaside just a couple of months after the storm. The arcade and gaming paradise has been on the Seaside Boardwalk for more than 55 years.

Ocean Hut Surf Shop in Lavallette, sustained major damage from Sandy. They have had to gut the entire store and rebuild. The store shared the arduous process on their Facebook page. Ocean Hut has been a family tradition for me since I was a young child, and I’m happy to report that over Easter weekend they reopened their doors.

The boardwalk in Asbury Park Boardwalk sustained significant damage in some areas, especially the southern end. Last week, the legendary Stone Pony announced its “Rebuild and Rock” 2013 summer stage series. The city continues to host events like the 11th Annual Garden State Film Festival at the Paramount Theatre on April 5 and a host of other concerts and events. Langosta Lounge restaurant has been closed since Sandy, but is slated to reopen sometime in April. An event will be held there on April 21, which will benefit Restore the Shore and Waves for Water (more info about both charities below). The owners of that restaurant also own several other popular shore establishments, including Dauphin Grille (currently open in the Berkley Hotel in Asbury Park), Pop’s Garage (Asbury location hopefully opening soon, Shrewsbury location open) and Labrador Lounge (located in Normandy Beach, with no date to reopen as of yet). The beaches of Asbury Park are slated to be open by Memorial Day (or possibly earlier).

Although some facilities may be closed, most beach towns at the Jersey Shore are confident that they will have beaches open by Memorial Day. Those beaches include Belmar, Long Branch, Manasquan, Ocean Grove, Sea Bright, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Bay Head, Brick, Lavallette, Long Beach Island, Point Pleasant Beach, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park and Toms River (northern barrier island beaches set to open June 1).

Island Beach State Park is currently open up to Ocean Beach One and plans to have the entire park operational by Memorial Day weekend. Sandy Hook sustained a lot of damage, but is hoping to be up and running by summer, but the timeline is still not certain.

How to help:
There are still many displaced Jersey Shore residents and struggling business all impacted by Super Storm Sandy. If you are willing and able, here are some ways to help restore our beloved shore.

The State of NJ has a volunteer hotline (800)-Jersey7 or email volunteer@gov.state.nj.us to get information on specific needs in different areas of NJ.

One of the greatest sources of information for me has been Jersey Shore Hurricane News. The page started shortly before Hurricane Irene, to alert local people to information related to that hurricane. Since then, it has become a “for the people, by the people” NJ news outlet covering everything from traffic, events, weather and more. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy it became a place for people to post information and a resource to so many affected by the storm. The page still posts a daily status asking where people can volunteer, donate, etc. The most comprehensive listing of resources, events, needs, donation and volunteer information that I have come across was created by JSHN and can be found here.

Buy a shirt and help! Ergo is the clothing company responsible for all of the “Restore the Shore” gear you may see people sporting. 100% of the proceeds on these items go directly to hurricane relief and aid.

Waves for Water is a charitable organization that helps clean water up around the world. They arrived in the North East in November 2012 and have “coordinated a full-fledged Hurricane Relief Initiative in response to Super Storm Sandy.” They aren’t just focusing on clean water, they have been addressing everything from rubble removal to rebuilding. Waves for Water has raised $1.1 million to date for the affected areas of the North East. Click here for information on how you can get involved.

Restore the Shore has some great information on their website, listed by county. You can find out where to drop off supplies, where to volunteer and how to donate money to local relief efforts.

NJ 211 has a list of volunteer and donation opportunities online. Information includes various NJ food banks and food drives, relief funds and county specific donation information.

One of the biggest things you can do to support the Jersey Shore is get out there this summer! Buy beach badges and support the local businesses in the affected shore towns. They are rebuilding, but they need our help to revitalize and restore completely.

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