Seaside Heights Marks 100 Years with Party of the Century
It's withstood two major boardwalk calamities, a superstorm, and even Snooki. Now, after two disaster-interrupted false starts, Seaside Heights marks 100 years of existence with a party in the center of town and optimism for its second century.
Thursday night, December 19, Hemingway's Cafe on the Boulevard will be the epicenter of what spokesman Mike Graichen characterizes as a night to remember, by any measurement. "Hopefully," he mused, "it's the start of a great new year and a great summer coming up."
Doors open, and revelry begins, at 6 PM.
Long in the planning stage, it appeared for a while as though the celebration was snake-bitten. It was originally scheduled for late fall 2012 - and derailed by Superstorm Sandy. Organizers rescheduled to fall 2013 - and the boardwalk fire scuttled the plans again.
This time, said Graichin, nothing stands in the way of their tribute to the past and their hopes for the future. "After Sandy, which really put us back, and the fire," Graichin observed, "it's amazing what a community can do, working together. Just amazing."
They're supplying a one-hour open bar and raffling off gifts through the evening, with live entertainment throughout. Each $25 admission goes toward the construction of a vivid new fountain for the borough's gateway-type entrance.
But the party is only the beginning. The borough is also staging its first Christmas parade this Saturday, with Santa landing in a helicopter to hand out gifts to children.
Seaside Heights was carved out of what was then Dover Township and Berkeley Township, and incorporated in February 1913. A Philadelphia company with a vision for an amusement mecca built a covered pier that included an ornate carousel two years later.
The company's plans dried up and they sold to another developer, but the carousel became an icon that lasted until the boardwalk fire this past Labor Day weekend. The intensity of that wind-blown conflagration was matched in its history only by a similar one in 1955.
The completion of the original Toms River Bridge, now the Mathis Bridge, in 1914, fueled tourism by adding an access route directly over Barnegat Bay from the mainland.
We can probably attribute the global influence of "Jersey Shore" to the magnetism of the gang's house and its now-famous garage door. Pehaps it turned a post-storm visit into a mission for Prince Harry. And of course, since Sandy, Governor Christie practically turned it into his easternmost branch office.
Lest you think that the "Jersey Shore" crew pioneered Seaside's TV exposure, you might recall the ATP professional volleyball tours that migrated to the beach for many years. The boardwalk also provided the backdrop for Bon Jovi's "In and Out of Love" video in 1985. The soap opera One Life to Live used Seaside as a scene-setter several years ago, and Artie Lange was a regular during the filming of Artie Lange's Beer League.