As the season opens, the Jersey Shore shows it's back

Micky Saini of Carlisle, Pa., keeps daughter Aastacha in the saddle on the carousel at the Steel Pier.
Micky Saini of Carlisle, Pa., keeps daughter Aastacha in the saddle on the carousel at the Steel Pier.
Posted: March 26, 2013

ATLANTIC CITY - Jacob Zimlichman had heard the entire Jersey Shore was underwater, destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

He knew that wasn't true. That's why the New Yorker was on Atlantic City's Steel Pier on Sunday as part of the seaside entertainment park's summer-season debut.

"I didn't have any second thoughts about coming here," Zimlichman said as he watched his child enjoy a ride on the Mighty Stampede.

State tourism officials wish everyone were as confident of the many miles of New Jersey beaches in good condition. A top priority of the state's $36 billion tourism industry is spreading the word that much of the Shore is open for business.

"The entire problem is perception," said Anthony T. Catanoso, owner of the Steel Pier.

To that end, tourism officials have begun an aggressive marketing campaign to counter the idea that all beachfront attractions have suffered the same fate as Seaside Heights' Jet Star roller coaster, which wound up in the Atlantic Ocean, compliments of Sandy.

On Wednesday, Gov. Christie announced the state would spend $30 million on a national advertising campaign to bring tourists back to the Shore.

Boardwalk rebuilding is under way in Belmar, Seaside Heights, and other areas primarily to the north of Atlantic City, but Sandy hardly made a dent in Atlantic City. The only part of the Boardwalk it claimed was already slated for demolition, Catanoso said.

Rather than face repairing damaged infrastructure, he is expanding. Eight new rides are planned by summer, with a new 200-foot Ferris wheel slated for completion by fall. Construction of two buildings will proceed in stages over the next three years to add retail and restaurant space, along with a 2,000-seat ballroom overlooking the Boardwalk, Catanoso said.

The Steel Pier was not the only oceanside fun zone beckoning visitors over the weekend. Near Asbury Park, the Keansburg Amusement Park, which Sandy swamped with six feet of water, also opened Saturday, though not all rides were running. Morey's Piers & Beachfront Waterparks in Wildwood will reopen this weekend with an Easter celebration.

Despite chilly conditions Sunday in Atlantic City, families were enjoying the Steel Pier.

Micky Saini and her 4-year-old daughter, Aastacha, played on the carousel while clutching several prizes from games they had conquered.

Originally from India and now living in Carlisle, Pa., the Sainis went to Atlantic City for the weekend because their friends wanted to go to the casinos and their daughter wanted to play on the Boardwalk.

"In India, we have a Taj Mahal," Nick Saini, Micky's husband, said with a grin.

The one by Donald Trump isn't quite the same, but it's still a good time, he said.

Contact Andrew Seidman at 856-779-3846,, or follow @AndrewSeidman on Twitter.

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