The start of demolition of the JetStar roller coaster in Seaside Heights, N.J., Tuesday stirred up feelings of nostalgia for many who came out to watch. The roller coaster sits in the Atlantic Ocean after the pier it sits on collapsed in Superstorm Sandy.
Residents and visitors gathered near the watery grave of the JetStar to witness the demolition of an icon both of the Seaside Heights boardwalk and of the October 2012 storm’s wrath. Removing the the JetStar is expected to take only 48 hours.
Many have strong memories associated with the boardwalk, and especially the roller coaster. Carolyn Javick brought her sons, 10 and 7, to see the ride being taken down. “It was the first roller coaster I was ever on as a child, and my sister held onto me really, really tight, and I thought I was going to fly off,” she said. Watching the 150-ton crane pick up the roller coaster’s skeleton out of the water, Javick could only describe it as “surreal.”
Danielle Nordquist drove over with a friend from Howell, N.J., and remembers riding the coaster with her dad, and having the fear that the cars would fly off the track and into the ocean. It’s eerie for her that the coaster eventually ended up in the water. She said she’s impressed with the pace of the clean-up. “It’s crazy how far we’ve come already,” she said, “I think in the next two years, it’s going to be bigger and better. Definitely stronger.”
Two construction workers enjoying a slice of boardwalk-style pizza on a patio near the JetStar have been working in the area since Sandy blew through late last year. Stan Maziarz said he feels the pain of the people who lost property and memories, but that if there was a lesson learned from the experience, it’s that people who pull together can make things better.
His friend Bill Johnson said that the tragedy “might be a blessing in disguise,” and is excited to see the boardwalk being rebuilt. It is expected to be completed by Memorial Day. Maziarz adds that he thinks the town will come back, “to use the Governor Chris Christie’s words, ‘better than ever.’ “