The last several times we'd visited Seaside Heights, at least in summer, we'd stopped in a municipal parking lot just at the entrance to town. It's a bit of a walk, but it's also free. Or was; this time around, the lot was torn up and there were construction vehicles all around. We drove eastward, toward the shore, and found, remarkably, what looked like legitimate street parking. we took the chance that we wouldn't get towed (and didn't).
Most of FunTown Pier was lost to Superstorm Sandy. What wasn't lost was destroyed a year ago, in the fire (ultimately blamed on wires damaged by Sandy). The owners of FunTown Pier have sworn repeatedly that they will rebuild, but there hasn't ben much evidence of it on the ground. The boardwalk's been repaired from the fire --- it was already largely replaced after the storm --- and we walked along that, finding among other things the temporary abode of the Berkeley Sweet Shop. This is the spot where bunny_hugger got introduced to Jersey Shore-style salt water taffy, which is like the salt water taffy you might get anymore but with a little extra bit of smugness on the part of Jersey residents.
Their main shop, and their secondary shop, were destroyed in the fire, including the vintage salt water taffy-making machine they'd had on proud display. From what I gather, though, they've found a salt water taffy-making machine of similar vintage, ready to put into a new shop, if they can find a proper one in the Seaside Heights/Seaside Park vicinity. (The area's divided into several municipalities, because New Jersey just does that; FunTown Pier was in Seaside Park.) They've also found a temporary residence on the pier, a bungalow-type location that doesn't offer room for the machine, or for free-style pick-and-mix candies, but they were there, and offering boxes of mixed taffies and other candies. It's something, and bunny_hugger was delighted to have this taste back. We would get a box for her, for the flight back.
It might not be enough. The bungalow isn't much of a spot, and they can only occupy it for another year or so (and I admit not understanding the requirements here). If they can't locate a permanent spot in that time, well, the owner admits he's getting up in years and may well lack the energy to start something from complete scratch again. Thus is this area trapped in an uncertain state: the Berkeley Sweet Shop has this tentative existence, which might be snuffed out if FunTown Pier remains in its current state of pledging to rebuild but not making any obvious steps in that direction, which is surely annoying the Seaside Park town government but what are they to do about it, especially given that the town's ability to act depends on its revenues, which depend on tourists spending money at places like the Berkeley Sweet Shop.
And yet ... when we got there there were a handful of things that looked like the components for rides, alongside signs reading ``Big Mark's Action Park''. This inspired us natural questions like: Who? Also, Action Park? That's a spot more than a little bit notorious around New Jersey, thanks to a somewhat (but only somewhat, admittedly) overblown reputation the water park had for injuring its patrons. The signs were a soothing lime green, with a not-really-flattering picture of a guy in glasses and a palm tree shirt, suggesting ... what? A new owner? Had we missed the news of FunTown Pier selling out to someone with plans to build out onto the parts of beach marked No Trespassing, about where the old pier had been?
Well, no, we would learn. Big Mark's Action Park, it turns out, is run by a guy I trust to be named Mark, who looks just like the icon, and he seems to be in the business of renting out amusement rides. His web site claims he's provided, for the past quarter-century, ``challenging amusements'' for everything ``from backyard jams to national tours for Fortune 500s, from multi day festivals to well known fun parks as big as Six Flags''.
We never got an answer what Big Marks was doing on the boardwalk around the FunTown Pier location, but perhaps Seaside Park had brought him in so that there'd be at least a couple rides drawing people to that part of the boardwalk. Later in the evening we'd go back and see that things we thought were rides being assembled were actually fully ready to go, and taking paying customers. It was still a strange little bit at the southern end of the boardwalk.
Trivia: Of the sixty delegates to the New Jersey Provincial Congress, thirty abstained from the 2 July 1776 vote on the constitution declaring the province a state rather than a colony, and nine voted against it. The constitution (not replaced until the 1840s) closed with a paragraph promising that it would be null and void in the case of ``a reconciliation between Great Britain and these colonies''. Source: The Uncertain Revolution: Washington and the Continental Army at Morristown, John T Cunningham.
Currently Reading: The Complete Fairy Tales Of The Brothers Grimm, Translator Jack Zipes.