The Iconic Seaside Coaster
From the moment the media began to televise the devastation to the Jersey Shore brought upon us by Hurricane Sandy, the roller coaster at Seaside became the hurricane’s iconic symbol. The coaster that once stood proudly on the boardwalk was now partially submerged in the icy waters of the ocean. We saw views of the coaster from land, from sea and aerial shots. At first, I cried. As did many others in Jersey. But I must have seen the image so many times that it started to look, well, normal. I know that sounds crazy. It is NOT normal for a coaster to be in the ocean. I know that the entire town of Seaside is still in tatters and I don’t mean to sound callous. Remember, the Jersey Shore is my home and while I am thankful that my family did not have any hardships from the hurricane, I certainly feel the pain of all of my neighbors who did. Which is why I took and posted so many photos of the wreckage and aftermath; I didn’t want people living away from the shore to think that things were ‘alright’. They are far from ‘alright’. It will be many months before they even come close to ‘alright’.
Some people proposed the idea of leaving the coaster in the water as some sort of barrier reef. Others were absolutely livid by this proposal. I can see both sides. I think if the coaster were to remain in the water, it would serve as a reminder in the future what the people and the town had to endure to rebuild. A monument of sorts. I don’t know the ecological impact that the structure would have so I can’t comment on that aspect. I will say that after seeing that image for weeks and weeks, when I finally saw it in person, I wasn’t sad. Maybe it was because the entire boardwalk was blocked off by police officers so that the workers who were dismantling the rest of the rides could get on with the work at hand without hundreds of gawkers with cameras (like me) underfoot. So I was able to watch the men on scaffolding hammering away and I felt the true sense of rebuilding. I just HAD to see the coaster for myself, so even after we encountered a road block and were told to turn around and a nice police officer at the boardwalk said ‘no access to the coaster’, I wasn’t ready to give up. We drove block after block and each one was cordoned off by yellow police tape that screamed ‘DO NOT ENTER’. A few blocks away, however, I noticed an entry point sans yellow tape. We were able to get onto the beach that way, completely unaware that the beaches were CLOSED to the public. We went onto the Seaside Heights website and they said the town was open. I just assumed that meant the beaches as well. Wrong. My bad. We walked for blocks on the sand and the coaster got bigger and bigger….
Wow. That’s all I said and all I thought. Wow. I didn’t cry, and I wasn’t upset. I actually thought it looked beautiful.
Don’t go writing me hate mail now. I see beauty everywhere (the curse of the photographer’s eye is that you can’t stop seeing it even if you try). The light was reflecting off the old tracks, the waves were green and beautiful and crashing around it…. Wow.
So I took my photos. There were others on the beach doing the same. I inched my way closer and closer to the actual pier that used to hold the coaster. It wasn’t long before I found myself standing under the pier trying to get the angle I wanted. Well, that caused another nice police officer to start jogging towards me yelling ‘okay, okay, take a few pictures then you gotta go’. And I did. But I got my shots. I never even thought about the pier being unstable when I was under it. All that matters is the shot.
I have my fingers crossed that the town WILL be able to rebuild in time for Memorial Day. Tourists are the life-blood of that town’s economy. Jersey Strong. We’ll do it….